By Angela Walters
The heart of Jesus to seek, to embrace, and to forgive never ceases to astonish me.
I work as a digital marketer, which means being on social media is part of my job. It’s by far the hardest part. I spend my days launching, monitoring, and measuring campaigns.
In doing so, I have seen people, a few of them people I know, post and comment with ideas that I don’t agree with. Some of which hurt me deeply. Every day I am in a position to decide whether to remain angry and disturbed, or to forgive.
This blog post is not about the right or wrong of world issues. It’s not about whether the ideas I disagree with ought to be challenged. This post is an accounting of a heart that has been hurt and offended. It is also a comparison with the heart of the Man of Sorrows, who has suffered far more.
I became a Christian at the age of 39. Before that series of moments when I asked Jesus to be Master over my life, I was a curse. I was an enemy of God.
Everything I thought, said, and did was offensive to God. Yet even from within the depths of my own wretchedness, all I had to do was nod in the direction of Christ Jesus, and He ran out to meet me, threw His arms around me, and drew me to Himself. I am just as astonished today as I was then.
I did not have to explain myself. I had only to want a relationship with him. He did the rest.
I believed His words from Matthew 11:28-30—words spoken over two thousand years ago, that remain as near to us as a whisper in the ear:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
My eyes go misty even as I type these words, as I remember how my soul craved rest at age 39 and how it felt to finally receive it. It has taken many years for me to begin to comprehend why a holy God would call me to Himself after I had offended him. Why would He forgive me?
Jesus calls to us with outstretched arms, not because it’s something He’s agreed to do, or something He has to do, but because it’s something He loves to do. It is at the heart of who He is.
Despite all that is going on in the world, or because of it, Jesus remains ready and eager to offer us rest. We cannot tire Him out or overstay our welcome. Our neediness only endears us to Him more.
This is the light in which I must view my own heart and the people who have offended me.
If I were to believe that my behavior toward others depends on their behavior toward me, then I would risk missing the message of Christ’s ministry here on earth. I would risk denying His sacrificial atonement on the cross.
I’d be a hypocrite.
No. As a Christian, my behavior toward others must reflect Christ’s behavior toward me. I am to forgive because I have been forgiven and because of the love that is the power source of that forgiveness.
At the beginning of this post, I said this was an accounting of a heart that has been offended. The only remedy is to view my heart in the light of Jesus, because when I do that I remember His astonishing grace. I remember when He came to me when I was still his enemy, calling me Friend. In that light, there is only one thing that will make me feel better, and that’s to forgive. Jesus will do the rest.