A PROMISE WITH A CONDITION
If you travel across the country, you will discover churches in every city and town, and Crosses dot the countryside. It would seem that Christianity has spread over the whole country. However, by noting the different names on churches, which indicates a party group that is not fully in fellowship with other party groups, the concept of His Church, which Jesus spoke of, becomes a bit hazy. But an even greater problem is watching the lives of those who fancy themselves Christians because they attend these “churches”. How many of us “Christians” can be said to “Love God and love our neighbor as ourselves”? The very division of “churches” belies this concept in the very beginning. But the two fundamental principles of Christianity are just that. It is not easy, and God forgives mistakes, BUT does He forgive us for not paying attention to His statements and really seriously trying? I doubt that.
In this context we need to ask ourselves, “What does He mean by love your neighbor as yourself? What does that require of me?” Have you EVER thought of that? And yet people blandly quote The Lord’s Prayer and mindlessly say, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. In doing so, we often are simply asking the Father not to forgive us at all. If we hold a grudge, remember something someone has done or said about us that was bad, dislike someone because of their past behavior toward us, or similar things, we are unforgiving, and in praying the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking Him to treat us the same way. That is just one of the self-damning problems we commit when we quote any prayer to God without really having our heart in what we are saying. Prayer is worship, and worship is realizing the presence of God, and if we do not do that, our very prayers condemn us for daring to approach the Throne of Grace without thought or true faith.
More than once in the New Testament, we are warned that if we are unforgiving, then we will be unforgiven. Every creature is loved of God, no matter how they behave. We do not like people who do not behave the way we want them to or the way we think they should. It is a good thing for us that God is not like that. I am so thankful that He loves me in spite of some of my obnoxious behavior. If I love my neighbor as I love myself, then everyone would be a person of concern for me, and I would desire the best for each and every one. This is very difficult, and it means that we have to be conscious of who we are and what Our Father wants us to be. We can be thankful that, if we are conscientious and live a life of faith, conscious of His presence, then even when our human weakness surfaces and we fail, there is forgiveness in the sacrifice of Jesus. However, if we presume on this Grace and use it as an excuse for our misbehavior, it will be taken away. That is why we are warned over and over again that He forgives us only as we imitate Him and forgive others, no matter how much their behavior might offend us.