Are you in love with Jesus but deathly afraid to share your faith? Are you in love with Jesus but think tracts are kind of stupid? You are not alone. Christians continuously come up with interesting ways to share their faith and more often than not I admire their passion and willingness to move outside their comfort zone, but am I the only one praying for a better way? There is a better way but it will require something more personal and is often more costly. I believe your life can share your faith more than any word you choose to speak. At the center of the gospel message of which all Jesus followers long to share is the story of forgiveness. Jesus chose the cross in an act that leads to the forgiveness of our sins. Unfortunately many of us choose not to extend this act of grace and mercy in our own lives.
Choosing to forgive someone may be the most effective way of sharing your faith with them, especially when it hurts. This may be why Jesus told his followers that if they did not forgive others for their transgressions, then neither would he forgive theirs. The forgiveness of our sins came at a great cost to Jesus, and it was a conscience choice he made.
Tim Keller, in The Reason for God, talks about forgiveness and the sacrifice a person wronged must make in order to forgive. He points out two different routes you can take when someone wrongs you. You can inflict pain or suffering on them, which could be done in a multitude of ways including physical, emotional, or monetary suffering. Or you can absorb the pain and suffering yourself.
Is this not the route taken by Jesus? The choice was his in the Garden of Gethsemane. He could either make us pay for our wrongdoing or he could absorb the punishment himself. We are imitating the one we most passionately want to profess in choosing to forgive someone their wrongdoing. In this way, or should I say "in the Way," we are bearing the cross in order to show them The Cross and The One who hung on it for their sake as well as ours. Discipleship is costly.
Four things happen when we choose to forgive:
- The person who wronged you experiences firsthand what grace and mercy feels like.
- Others around you are able to witness what grace and mercy look like from one who follows Jesus.
- You are able to identify more with Jesus, which strengthens your appreciation for him.
- God is able to strengthen and heal you through this process as you release your right for revenge to him.
Others will take notice when you imitae Jesus so that when it is necessary to use words you will have their full attention. Remember to walk the walk before you talk the talk. Let your life preach!