Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Was Life Really Meant To Be This Complicated?

Do you ever get the feeling that life was never meant to be so complicated? On occasions I have watched a television show called "Hoarders", about people who allow their homes to be consumed by "stuff". It has gotten so bad for some of these people that their homes have been condemned and they are no longer allowed to live there with all their "stuff". It is sad to watch. I am convinced that the vast majority of us do this with our lives. We fill it with junk emotions, useless arguments, silly controversies, and "stuff". We are even willing to sacrifice friendships over these things, arguments over nothing. Much of the problem comes from refusing to grow up spiritually.

Our Father has never desired for us to hoard away our bitterness, pain, hatred, jealousies, loss or anything else he has set us free from. These things remain with us and become part of us when we refuse to be mature about things and apologize or seek forgiveness. In fact, I would say the one thing we have the hardest time getting rid of is unforgiveness. The toughest maturity lesson we have to learn is to love (not just forgive) those who have harmed us. The very natural human thing for us to do is seek justice and we will not let go of the negative until we have this justice. The problem is that justice may satisfy that natural hunger but it does nothing for our unforgiveness.

This lack of forgiveness leads to all kinds of other "stuff" taking up residence, like bitterness, resentment, and hatred. Unforgiveness will act like a wedge in any relationship, husband and wife, parent and child, friends, widening the gap every day it is left unattended. It fills up so much of our life that it crowds out all other legitimate emotions so that it begins to affect our relationship with other people, the innocent by-standers.

I may be putting this in a wordy human term but it is a spiritual truth that we must accept, learn and live if we want to move on to greater spiritual things. It is good for our physical, mental and spiritual health. Jesus said the only solution to unforgiveness is love:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:43-45)

A "son" develops the character of his Father. This is an in-your-face character of our Father and it is clear that he expects us to develop this same character. So how do you make excuses to legitimize your illegitimate emotions? If  Jesus Christ is our Lord and if we are determined to be his followers then we cannot be hoarders of illegitimate emotions that stunt our growth. It is not an easy thing but the more we understand God's love the easier forgiveness flows.

Some think that following Jesus Christ is the easy way out but when you realize that we are called to be just like him and to do what he did then you realize just how different from this world we are intended to be:

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:46-48)

Somehow we have turned God into our personal little genie who we want to grant us our wishes. We have allowed faith to become all about us as we continue to live like everyone else on this planet. But we have been re-created for something greater than this. We are not like we were because we have been given a greater capacity to love with the love of the Lord. The greatest act of love is forgiveness; the Father showed us that.

So this is an easy measuring tool if we are willing to be honest with ourselves. It should be easy for us to tell whether we are moving on to greater spiritual maturity or if we are burying ourselves alive with our emotional hoarding. Soon as you feel bitterness, jealousy, anger, even hatred, look for any root of unforgiveness. If you have not matured to the point where love produces an ample supply of forgiveness, even for the people who hate you the most, you need to ask the Father and he will supply what you need. If we cannot forgive we have no right to refer to ourselves as Christians, followers of Jesus, the children of God. It is time to end our hoarding and grow up into the whole measure of the fullness of Jesus. It is time to get back to the simple life.


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