God, Jesus, Love, Theology

The Hardest Lesson I’ve Ever Had To Learn


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Broken-down World

The sting of injustice is never pleasant. Like an incurable disease plaguing the entire world, all of us can see injustice functioning on a global scale every single day. We witness Robert Mugabe, corrupt Bankers, terrorism, famine, Rogue Traders, lazy Landlords, disallowed goals that have crossed the line, recruitment processes that look legal but that are internally rigged, false imprisonments, false biblical teaching, the ivory trade, endangered tigers, abuses of power, human trafficking and a whole other nightmare of unimaginable dysfunction that, somehow, manages to endure.

Despite the rare pockets of glory, our best efforts to act justly and the promises within the redemptive mission of God, we still live in an unjust, broken-down world.

Global becomes Personal

Global injustice like this is meant to provoke us into faith-filled action and to woo us into the caring shelter of God, but, like a nauseating hors d’oeuvre before our eventual main course of numbness, it has a nasty habit of shutting us down. But, of course, this is until injustice comes to visit us, parks on our own front lawn and starts to screw around with our beautifully landscaped gardens.

Then we sit up.

Nothing awakens us to the sting of global injustice like the excruciating pinch of personal injustice. Somehow, as they germinate in the unploughed soil of our own hearts, we become more upset and hurt and sleepless by the seeds of personal injustice than we are by the grotesque sufferings of our fellow mankind. Let’s face it, the pain of global injustice is largely lost on us through the deafening cacophony of binary static – we’re outraged but also quickly forgetful and, ultimately, unmoved.

Our Outrage

Over the last few years, situations of personal injustice towards Mairi and I have crawled into the nooks and crannies of our lives in a way that, at times, have felt hopeless. With detail spared, the temptation and even occasional tendency has been for us to respond to these multifaceted situations in the weakness of the flesh – through anger, fear, anxiety and even with temptations toward retaliation and revenge.

But this is the way of the flesh and not the Holy Spirit.

This is not learning to love as we should.

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A Tale of Three Kings

One of the stand-out books that I’ve read in recent months is called A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards. It’s the kind of book for me that you’d swear an angel of God came and slipped under the pillow of your life while you were sleeping at night. (It’s especially good as an audio book).

By focusing on the God-riveted life of King David, the spear-throwing life of Saul and even David’s treacherous son, Absalom, the book enabled me to hear the voice of Christ as I was stared down by situations of such bewildering personal injustice against us that,  otherwise, literally made me feel sick. The essential message of the book is this: God wants to remove from our hearts and minds every spear-throwing inclination (in thought, word & deed) in response to situations of personal injustice so that the literal anointing of Jesus might be truly formed in us instead. 

Along with a superb book on Psalm 119, this was a landmark moment for me in 2016.

They Literally Don’t Know What They’re Doing

I wouldn’t say that I “hear” God’s voice in spectacular ways that often but a few weeks ago I did have a sudden and very strong impression on my heart that I immediately knew was from Jesus: Oh, Nick, learning to love as you should means responding to personal injustice in the power of My Spirit not in the weakness of your flesh.

This wasn’t an isolated bullet-point or a mere passing comment from the Divine; it was a final piece of a jigsaw in a spiritual lesson that provided me with insight, sanity, peace and joy. In short, I had come to understand by personal experience that it is only ever the progressive power and likeness of Christ in me that will enable me to respond to personal injustice in love and not in anger. This is foreign to all of us and thoroughly impossible without God.

In situations of personal injustice you will likely be facing, or will surely face, Satan’s scheme is like that of a proud lion – a locust scum – hunting for those to devour with debilitating human emotions of anger and rage and fear, to consume you with bitterness, hatred and even desires of revenge.

But The Spirit’s will for your life is only to become more like Jesus.

So let’s consider Him.

More Than Clenched Teeth

Jesus endured opposition from sinful man to such an awesome extent that His blood was shed. (Hebrews 12:3-4). This is one reason why it is good to meditate on Jesus’ suffering – because the Bible tells us to. (“Consider Him…”). The blend of this kind of human suffering and spiritual abandonment in the context of personal injustice is impossible for us to imagine. This is personal injustice on the darkest level.

Yet Jesus was perfect in love.

Can you imagine how awful it would have been if Jesus had gone to the cross kicking and screaming or with anxious proclamations of His own innocence? Instead, He was led like a Lamb to the slaughter in ‘silence and shame’ where…He said nothing.

Consider Isaiah 53:7:-

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.

Turning skyward from the Roman dogs underneath Him, in Luke 23:34, Jesus prayed to His Adonai:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

This was more than clenched teeth or the swallowing of an insanely bitter pill; this was the full-blown, heart-rooted power of the Holy Spirit of love consuming Jesus as He demonstrated how we are all to respond to injustice. And I think it is especially in the area of personal injustice that this specific scheme of Satan – to undermine the work of love in us – latently lives and lurks.

Jesus didn’t ask the Father to forgive them because it was the righteous thing to do (though it was). Jesus asked the Father to forgive them because His supernatural, perfect love for them neutralised any fleshy response to the pain or outrage of personal injustice.

May this be our testimony as we learn to love Him as we should.

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