"...we can say with confidence,
'The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?'”
Hebrews 12:6 (NRSV)
Of course, people can do lots of horrible things to us. They betray us and lie about us. They harm us in ways that can be substantial.
Unfortunately, we learn our lessons well. If someone hurts me, I may not trust them again.
If I encounter enough people who harm me, I may develop a wariness for people in general.
Some call this practical and it may be to an extent.
But this is not how God sees people.
One time, after preaching a funeral, one of the children of the deceased came to me afterward, clearly upset, and exclaimed, "That was not how I knew her at all. You painted too rosy a picture, pastor."
I usually don't speak of a person's ugliness at a funeral, even if it was pretty characteristic. Because no matter how bad a person was, there is good in them too. Of course, with some people, we may have to hunt a little longer!
|After a fit of anger, I often regret my behavior. How|
often do we let circumstance dictate our response?
But when a person is in Christ, God forgives their sins and sees them as righteous. And so for a funeral, I am preaching about them as God sees them.
One might say, "But, you're not telling everything you know!" and this would be correct. Revealing all we know for the world to see is usually not a kindness and it rarely corrects behavior that is problematic. Especially if the person is deceased!
The author of Hebrews asks the question, "What can anyone do to us?" and when it comes from a position of faith, we answer with confidence, "nothing!"
Even though this is not always true, it is paradoxically true because our faith moves us beyond injury. What else is the ability to forgive? God allows me to rise above my wounds. They no longer define me. Once I allow them to define me, I become a victim.
But in Christ, we are strong enough to love a world that is much of the time unlovable. We can do it because the Lord is our helper. With God's help, we don't even have to wait until they die! And so we keep trying to love in spite of the hurdles. And even as I tremble with fear, I will rise up and proclaim, "I will not be afraid."
May it be so for you.
Photo from Flickr.com, used under the Creative Commons license.