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Friday, December 26, 2014

Discipleship’s Most Fundamental Challenge

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
— Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)
The hardest thing of all and the greatest challenge of life is the maintenance of our relationships. But these are just as rewarding per the effort we are prepared to put in. Simple answer is, the more we apply faith to love people, the more we are all blessed. But it is also very messy at times. Much forgiveness is required.
The challenge of all discipleship challenges is always relational. Relationships are where our maturity is tested first and foremost. To the extent of our ability to give and receive love, especially when we are low, is the test of all tests. Relationships always expose us at our weakest and lowest. We will want the right to be stubborn, whilst refusing others that same right. We will insist on being understood when we fall short of understanding others. These are some of the challenges that must be overcome. If we are to prove we are true disciples of Jesus, not least of which to ourselves, we need to work on mastering our relationships.
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We cannot say we love God and still leave those we hurt remain hurt. God expects us to make some reasonable effort to reconcile.
“So far as it depends on us” (Romans 12:18) we strive to do what’s right in the eyes of our Lord. We know that all of the Sermon on the Mount is relational; that’s why it appears so hard to achieve. We know that what Jesus speaks about in each verse of those three chapters of Scripture is possible to achieve, but it feels impossible to sustain. Relationally we strive to obey and relationally we forgive the instances where we fall short. We forgive ourselves and others.
The greatest joy a human being can experience is to be at harmony with his or her world. Because we are sinners we need a way back; to forgive ourselves and others.
Life never gets easier to understand or harder to apply than to know we have to get our relationships right, and the only way we can do that is maintain calm with friends and foe alike – and we can. Life pits us against people, but it doesn’t mean we can’t treat everyone with the respect everyone deserves.
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Life’s biggest test and greatest opportunity is relationships. If we are to get life right we will get our relationships right.
There’s no point being right if we have relationships that turn out wrong.
Being at peace with all those in our orbit is the key to joy.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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