By The Very Rev. Daniel P. Richards
It is simple. Really. Follow Jesus. Do what he does. Pray as he prays. Say what he says. Live what he teaches.
It should be easy, but it isn’t. Everyone falls short. The grace of God is perfect, and we are so imperfect. But, the promise is that God will give us the grace and mercy that we extend.
We must forgive others. It is easy to get stuck on forgiveness. Everyone has their Adolf Hitler, someone in their life who is just too evil to let go of; and so we let that slide, and with it, the whole enterprise.
Forgiveness is simple. It is hard and relentless, but it is the place to begin. God forgives us as we forgive others. We forgive sins and debts, the two words used in the two versions of the Lord’s Prayer. We forgive sins, where others have fallen short, the spiritual aspects of offense, the unseen wounds, secret checklists. We let them go. We also forgive debts, the physical, real debts that others have racked up with us.
Forgiveness thus becomes freedom. Then the fun begins. We can move and use the power of the Spirit to begin to heal and be healed. We can restore and make new. We can be in right relationship.
Here is a great mystery. We are amazing creatures made in the image of God. We are creative and passionate and loving. We can take care of creation, see the whole, and respond in new and wonderful ways. But we are so bound up in other things, uncreative, false, and hateful.
Have you ever imagined what a life lived in grace could look like? What good could be done! But we are slave to sin, as Paul says. We are tied to our electronic lusts and broken vendettas. We fritter away our lives pursuing that which does not give life and does not make new.
I am always surprised that I can see the reality of grace, but then fall short. I need a new self everyday. I wear out my new self almost immediately. I need God to dwell within me, with all his creative powers to constantly be recreating me.
Creation is accomplished by his word, so truly we must be poems, songs of God’s making, being always sung new. When I disconnect from God I get old so fast, but when I stay rooted in his presence and wisdom, I get sung new and green. I am supple and free and quick and creative with a creativity beyond my dreams.
I can live with grace. I become a part of the new creation, the Rule of God, where sins are forgiven and God is known face to face, Emmanuel, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor.
It is so simple. When we begin in God, it is not difficult. We just do what branches do, like children of God, born again.