Two monks were making a pilgrimage to venerate the relics of a great Saint. During the course of their journey, they came to a river where they met a beautiful young woman -- an apparently worldly creature, dressed in expensive finery and with her hair done up in the latest fashion. She was afraid of the current and afraid of ruining her lovely clothing, so asked the brothers if they might carry her across the river.
The younger and more exacting of the brothers was offended at the very idea and turned away with an attitude of disgust. The older brother didn't hesitate, and quickly picked the woman up on his shoulders, carried her across the river, and set her down on the other side. She thanked him and went on her way, and the brother waded back through the waters.
The monks resumed their walk, the older one in perfect equanimity and enjoying the beautiful countryside, while the younger one grew more and more brooding and distracted, so much so that he could keep his silence no longer and suddenly burst out, "Brother, we are taught to avoid contact with women, and there you were, not just touching a woman, but carrying her on your shoulders!"
The older monk looked at the younger and said, "Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river miles ago. Why are you still carrying her?"
Have you ever made a mistake someone would not let you forget? Have you ever messed up and your own conscience wouldn’t forget? How long have you held on to a hurt or a mistake someone else has made? Somethings are hard to let go of ya know it? It is so much easier to keep carrying things; mistakes, wrongs, offenses, and sins. What if we could let it all go?
AND what if we could put it ALL down AND THEN have the ability to walk away? What if we could do it with our friends, our enemies and even our parents?
I grew up with the idea that God has a great big book of everything. Have ya’ll ever gotten that idea...that God is up there making sure it is all written down, especially the screw-ups? Where does that come from? Yes, there are images of God’s judgement in the Bible. There are mentions of lists too in the Bible and if not read carefully or with the perspective of key points, we miss the more subtle ones.
The Key Point is getting the right perspective of God.
John 14:6-9 Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me. (7) If you really knew me, you would know my Father too. But now you know the Father. You have seen him." (8) Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need." (9) Jesus answered, "Philip, I have been with you for a long time. So you should know me. Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father too. So why do you say, 'Show us the Father'?
What if you believed Jesus is who he says he is? Most people like Jesus a whole lot, even unbelievers and atheists. Then they point to the Old Testament and try to explain away Jesus’ words. But Jesus is saying here we can’t do that! “Anyone who has SEEN me has SEEN the Father too.” Look at God in the Old Testament through Jesus’ glasses. In Jesus, we see GOD. Period. He is quick to forgive. He is quick to heal. He is quick to teach. He is quick to correct. He is quick to love. And all those things are true of God the Father. And when we get that, we can face the subtle point.
The Subtle Point is the same God who forgives, is the same God who helps us live.
Luke 18:1-7 Then Jesus taught the followers that they should always pray and never lose hope. He used this story to teach them: (2) "Once there was a judge in a town. He did not care about God. He also did not care what people thought about him. (3) In that same town there was a woman whose husband had died. She came many times to this judge and said, 'There is a man who is doing bad things to me. Give me my rights!' (4) But the judge did not want to help the woman. After a long time, the judge thought to himself, 'I don't care about God. And I don't care about what people think. (5) But this woman is bothering me. If I give her what she wants, then she will leave me alone. But if I don't give her what she wants, she will bother me until I am sick.'" (6) The Lord said, "Listen, there is meaning in what the bad judge said. (7) God's people shout to him night and day, and he will always give them what is right. He will not be slow to answer them. (ERV)
So Jesus is comparing God to an uncaring judge, right? Well, no. James Moore calls this a “How Much More” story. “If an unjust judge can help you when you ask HOW MUCH MORE will God help!” Because we know the KEY POINT, we are more aware of that subtle point, that God is in the business of FORGIVING for LIVING.
The doctors and nurses who helped treat my cancer didn’t do that so that I would continue to live like I was diseased but so I could live. Jesus doesn’t forgive us and heal us of the wound of sin so we wallow around all sickly and reminding ourselves of those sins. Maybe you’ve seen that and felt that was what you were supposed to do but it isn’t that at all.
Like the older monk, we can sit down what needs to be left behind and walk on. HOW MUCH MORE will God help us leave behind mistakes, regrets, failures and sins if we ask. HOW MUCH MORE will God help us live like Jesus if only we ask, if only we turn from our way to God’s way, the way of Jesus.