By Steve Wickham
SUCCESS in life is at our fingertips, but we must realize that we have to first redefine what success is. It’s not the product the world sells us. It is mastery over our relationships. And that said, it is not mastery over people, quite the reverse. As soon as we learn we exist for people life comes at once to be successful. Mastery over our relationships means no person is a threat and we, ourselves, are a threat to no one.
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?”
– Hebrews 13:6 (NRSV)
How do we get to the state where nobody is a threat?
We make a commitment to God and to love. We commit to love in all situations, to love all people, to express compassion even in the most horrendous or benign situations. And we are being sanctified toward this end when we commit. Sure, we don’t just arrive there, but we do arrive there more and more as we focus on love and learn from times of both love and falling short of love. Grace underpins our approach.
Now here are some remarkable disparities of love that may stick in the throat but are worthy of reflection:
Say sorry to your ‘enemy’ because you are really saying sorry to God. Go and do it. Go with your head held high, giving them eye contact, go there with dignity, and say it like you mean it. Account for what you can account for. God does not ask you to account for what they are expected to give. But, likewise, have no expectation of them. It’s none of our business what God’s doing within them.
Listen to the feedback that seems so foreign and wrong. Don’t prejudge it without allowing its proper receipt. Then go away and reflect. And only when your feelings are at one with peace then act.
Defending ourselves is a folly because it always backfires. A wise person knows this as an experience we all experience; defending ourselves positions us in a place where only our own defence counts. But if we do not defend ourselves, others and God might avenge us – God using others. If not, so be it. What possible harm can really take place?
Forgiveness works when we embody Jesus on the cross. When we consider the scorn he bore upon his body and the blood split for each of our wrongs we have the example of a radical approach to forgiveness that works.
When we are able to imbibe all Jesus’ strength – that strength of his hanging on the cross – we are able to loan anyone the compassion they need that God might break through.
Forgiveness, yes, high upon Golgotha’s cross,
Grossest scourge to make each of us free,
And what was needed was that our Savior,
Would be hanged upon Golgotha’s tree.
Forgiveness, yes, the blood, the grime,
The sinews, hanging, the ribbons of his skin,
The pain he bore for you and me, see:
Love has compassion for those who sin.