Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Put your sword down

This past weekend we went to see the movie “Ben Hur”. It is a classic movie, you might remember the one with Charleston Heston. This remake is just as good, with a gripping message.
The plot surrounds two brothers who because of choices and circumstances become at war with each other. The anger and unforgiveness is evident in the many scars that each brother acquires. However, when one brother sees the blood of Jesus, literally, he is changed and the battle that stirred up the two brothers differences no longer mattered.
I’ve not been able to get one particular scene out my head: Jacob Ben Hur approaches his brother who is maimed, laying on a stretcher, leg amputated; all because of him. His brother looks up at him and says, “You DID this to me”! With his sword in his hand, ready to give his brother what he deserves, something in the wind shifts. Ben Hur reaches out to his brother and says, “No more hate”.
Seemingly, it is the very thing that these two brothers needed. The sword is dropped and the two brothers are reconciled.
That my friend is what is wrong today. Too many swords are drawn and no one is willing to let theirs drop. Everyone is out for their own. It’s a dog eat dog world. We don’t talk to our neighbors because they crossed us. We sit on the other side of church because someone hurt us. Families are at odds because of offenses. Marriages split because of differences. Our country is divided because of race and beliefs. Instead of blaming others, we should be praying for others.
Jesus often had to deal with this matter with His disciples. Not only did they struggle with loving their enemies but they also had difficulty understanding that they must truly love their Christian brothers and sisters. Look at Peter; he wanted to limit the number of times forgiveness should be extended toward his brothers. He suggested to Jesus that forgiveness should be extended just 7 times.
But Jesus suggested that Peter’s sword be put down:
“I do not say to you seven times but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22)
If we were to be real with one another, we would have to admit that some people are easier to love. There are those certain people, even in church and in our families, that just rub us wrong. But Jesus did not say to love only those who make us feel good or give us lovey dovey goose bumps. As Jesus hung on the cross, bloody and beaten, He looked out among the crowd. He didn’t just see those crying out for Him, He looked out and saw His accusers and those mocking Him, spitting on Him and rejecting Him. Even so, He said, “Lord forgive them, they do not know what they do.”
When I examine my own relationships, I often see where we (including me), do not know what we do. Holding onto grudges. Refusing to forgive one another. Letting anger steal our joy. We keep our swords at arms length, ready to strike whoever crosses the line. I say it is time to drop our swords, and choose love and forgiveness. Like in the movie, Ben Bur, the scars still remained between two brothers but forgiveness set them free.
Jesus isn’t asking us to love and forgive our brothers, He commands it! Whatever wound you have that keeps you at war, drop your sword and receive the freedom that only comes from Christ.
PRAYER: “Dear Lord, thank you for forgiving me. I ask that you give me the power and strength to forgive my friends and enemies that come against me. As I forgive others, not only will it release me from self inflicting sword wounds but it will lead me closer to You. “AMEN.

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