I began this series on the Call to Obedience with a reflection of Christ’s commands which both precede and follow the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. And as I said in that first post – Jesus is telling us to do something, and as one of your pastors I say when Jesus gives us a command, we ought to be obedient to him!
Isn’t it a testament to the miraculous and overwhelming love of our Savior, and his love of us in our weakness that, even as he calls us to obedience, he interrupts some very hard words in the Sermon on the Mount – commands to love the unlovable, bear the unbearable, and resist the irresistible – to remind us that we are to do so not with our own strength or our own resources.
Because, in the midst of all these commands – these imperative verbs of “Come!” “Go!” “Do!” and “Do not!” – we come to the part of the sermon where Jesus tells us “Pray!” And in doing so, he gives us the opportunity to say our own imperatives to God, not as commands but as pleas to the King of kings, as supplications to the only One who can fulfill our needs, as requests to the only perfect Master who can guide us to joyful obedience.
King Jesus commands us to plea. We are to plea for God’s name to be made holy, for his kingdom to come, and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. We are to plea for our daily bread. And we have the joy that these pleas are made in the utmost expectation that our God will actually answer them!
And then we get to one of the most contentious and one of the most difficult to digest verses in Scripture. We are to ask him to forgive our debts even as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12).
These are difficult words, to me some of the most difficult to digest in all of Scripture. Because I am not good at true forgiveness. I’m good at ignoring… and my observation is that I am not alone in this.
And that is why we are spending the next few months of Sunday sermons in the book of Philemon, a book about forgiveness, restoration, and reconciliation. And we believe this will lead us into a difficult yet rewarding path in which we learn to respond to God’s commands to be reconciled with one another (Matthew 18:15)– and for that response to be one of obedience.
We invite you to follow along in this sermon series – “Forgive, or not to Forgive” – and of course, to join in the discussion by leaving a comment.