I was unpacking the theme of betrayal in my sermon last Sunday and it struck me that to tell people to forgive someone who betrayed them is a pretty big ask. I realized that for some of them this is a spouse who repeatedly lied to them and then walked out on their marriage. For others it friend who undermined them so terribly that they wonder if any of the friendship was ever real?
Pastors have been known to sarcastically quip, “Church wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for these people.” It’s a statement that belies their experience with personal betrayal and strife. But as I unpacked the biblical story I was encouraged with the reminder that it isn’t in our strength alone.
Coming to faith in Christ is more than just a commitment to a certain lifestyle -- it’s a transformational experience in the Spirit. Jesus called it being “born again.” Paul called it dying to self. Romans 8:11 says, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he… will also give life to your mortal bodies…”
When I make a bold challenge from the pulpit I do so knowing that I also present the power of God that makes it doable. It’s not self-help! It’s not a pep talk or skills training on how to do the tough things in life. It’s a call to lean into our relationship with God and then live in the shadow of his strength.
If you feel like you’re facing a big challenge right now, maybe before you head down to the self-help section at the local book store or start surfing the blog world, try taking some time aside and invite God into the situation.