Thursday, December 04, 2008

Perfect Peace (of Mind) Part II

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that . . . But love your enemies, do good to them . . . Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

~ Luke 6:36,37

Last week I wrote about two of the three areas of life that we have no control over: the past and the present. This week I’d like to continue with #3 on the list.


I’ve actually covered this subject in some recent columns. In my column titled What’s Wrong With Being Right, I included the following excerpts from Dr. John Townsend’s book, Who’s Pushing Your Buttons:

“It makes sense [that] you care about the button-pusher and want things to go well between the two of you. Yet that person is free to choose his behavior toward you, his attitudes, and whether he even wants to be in a relationship with you. . . .

God understands
this dilemma. He knows it conceptually, and He knows it in experience. God lives in it every day, caring about us and just wanting a relationship with us that is for our best; yet He gives us the freedom to say no to Him, which we often do. . . .

God desires the connection profoundly, yet He does not violate the free will that He also created within us. He allows Himself to experience that sort of tension, not because it is good or pleasant for Him, but because freedom is the only way that we will ever have a relationship that comes from within – from the heart – and is not forced or controlled. That is the only sort of relationship He is interested in.”

When a friend of mine was going through a divorce, she wondered why God didn’t fix her situation and save her marriage. But when the answer to your prayer involves another person and their choices, God is limited in what He can do. He can’t interfere with or violate that person’s free will. It’s just like salvation – God offers it freely to everyone, but He won’t force anyone to love Him, serve Him, or believe in Him. And even though God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, the choice is up to each individual based on whether they choose to accept – by believing – or reject God’s gift of forgiveness.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
~ Romans 5:6-8

In the November 2008 edition of “Our Daily Bread,” published by RBC Ministries, they explain it this way: “Not even God, with all His power, will force a human being to love Him.”

As for dealing with other people, the only person you actually have any control over is yourself. (And for me, that’s a full time job!) Oh, but how often do we try to control those around us: our co-workers, friends, parents, siblings, children, spouses and partners? But instead of trying to change people or control them, we should just focus on loving them and praying for them.

“You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven . . . If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?”

~ Matthew 5:43-47

I’d like to close with this poem I wrote recently:

Live and Let Live

By Eileen Umbehr

The world is your oyster,
And my world is mine.
If we’ll just respect each other,
We should get along fine.

Although you don’t like how I sing
Or enjoy my song
If that’s how you feel,
Then just don’t sing along

But please don’t tell me that my pitch
Is too high or too low
For it’s my song to sing
And it’s all that I know

Just because we are different
Doesn’t mean that we’re wrong
Like the colors of the rainbow
We all still belong

You see life is like a game
Of tic, tac, toe
Some of us are x’s
And others are o’s

So don’t compare me to others
Nor them to me
Because we’re all different fish
In the same great big sea

And rather than get angry
At the things that I do
Why don’t I focus on me
And you focus on you?

Because no one likes to feel
Like they’re under attack
And if you growl at me
I might have to growl back!

So let’s live and let live
As the saying goes
Then maybe we’ll avoid stepping
On each other’s toes

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

~ Philippians 4:6,7 (NIV)