Our family [Identities disclosed for security reasons] has been called by God to serve as international missionaries. Our passion is that there be no place left where people have not had an opportunity to respond to the gospel in an understandable way, and it is this that has led us to pursue a career of lifelong missionary service. We will be moving overseas in in the middle of October. This is an extremely exciting but difficult season for our family. There are many goodbyes happening. There have been many moments during which we have realized we are maybe saying goodbye for the last time, and we may never see many of these people again. We are coming to grips with the reality that we will miss many of our close family and friends' births, celebrations, weddings, funerals, and more because of the call God has placed on our family.
With this in mind one might ask, "Then why move away from these close family and friends for your last 6 months in the states to help with a new church in Charleston, SC?" This is a very valid question and the answer is two-fold. The first part of our answer is our calling. The same call that is leading us to serve a lifetime as missionaries internationally is what has driven us here to serve at Uptown Church. A call by God to reach the people that are far from God is not limited by any governmental boundaries. Our call doesn't begin when we get on a plane to a foreign land. Our call is in the DNA of our family. It is who we are, and we know no other life to live that honors our Lord and God.
The second part to our answer is preparation. What better way to prepare to engage people who are far from God in an international setting than right here at home? When people move overseas they already have many new things to learn. They have to learn the language, the culture, how day-to-day life works in their location, and how to establish relationships in a completely new environment. So why would one want to throw learning how to reach people who are far from God and starting churches into the already stressful mix? This season is meant to allow our family to implement this calling, learn more, and prepare more for reaching the lost.
Photo taken from redzenradishphotography.com
"Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."
- Matthew 6:12
1. To grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
2. To give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
3. To grant pardon to (a person).
4. To cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
5. To cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
Here is the truth of the gospel- God designed the world so that we would live in a joyful, peaceful existence, unified to each other and to our Creator. We turned away from God's authority and goodness and the result was the broken, messed up world we live in now. But God loved humanity so much that He made a way to fix what we had broken and offer forgiveness through Christ. God was under no obligation to forgive us. Further, it cost Jesus greatly to forgive us. Jesus, fully God and man, experienced the wrath of God in our place by dying the death we deserved and then He rose from the dead. So doing, He is able to forgive and reconcile us to Himself.
Since we have been forgiven an immeasurable debt, how can withhold mercy towards those who have wronged us? When we hold onto unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment in our hearts, it costs us greatly. It has been said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting it to harm the other person. By withholding mercy, we think that we are punishing another person but we are really punishing ourselves. Forgiveness can be painful for a time but withholding it confines you to live in a prison of unrelenting bitterness and eventually hatred. Why not bear the wrong as Christ bore our wrongs?
Unforgiveness is evidence that we do not understand grace. Someone who cannot forgive may see Christ's sacrifice as a good thing, but they may not understand the necessity or greatness of Christ’s work. If we understood how much mercy we have been given, then we would not hold onto unforgiveness and bitterness.
Perhaps the greatest example of the capacity to forgive that has ever been displayed in Charleston was evident the day that the families of those killed in the Mother Emmanuel shooting offered forgiveness and grace to their loved ones' cold blooded killer, Dylann Roof. Their example helps us to remember two crucial facts about forgiveness - it is costly, and it can change the world. The actions of these followers of Jesus are the collective result of their commitment to act like their Savior who in the midst of hatred said these words, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Are you holding unforgiveness in your heart against someone?
Do you TRULY understand how much you have been forgiven of?
The result of forgiveness is freedom, why choose to stay in chains?
For today, ponder these questions in your heart, and read Matthew 12:9-14 and Matthew 18:21-25.
Chris and Dorothy Blalock