You’ve heard about that straw that breaks the camel’s back, right? The poor camel has had no problem carrying the other 16,495,623 straws, but the 16,495,624th straw cracked its back. Just like that, the load was simply too heavy to carry. Sometimes I have relationships like that. The other person can have done all kinds of things to me. We can have made it through all sorts of pain, then one day they say something, and I inwardly respond, “yeah, no, that’s just unforgivable. You could do anything except that.” And I simply want to cut them off.
I had one of those recently. Logically, the final straw was much less offensive than the straws which came before it. Grace had been extended for much bigger grievances, but frankly I had no idea how I was going to forgive this one. God and I have been having a conversation about it for quite some time now.
One of the beautiful things about God’s grace is that I cannot out-sin it. Jesus paid for the most heinous sins I could commit. Nothing need separate me from God’s love. All I need to do is run into His gracious arms. God is not angry with me. His grace is always enough. Jesus paid my debt.
As I was talking to God about this last straw in the relationship, God brought to mind that if I was truly loving the other person with His love, then with the condition of confession and repentance, nothing should be able to separate this other person from my love. They should not be able to out-sin it.
I drug my feet a little. “God, do You have any idea what it means if I give this person another chance? I am not You. I am merely human. Surely You cannot expect my fragile being to love with Your love. If I give this person another chance, they will hurt me again. I will be crucified!”
He seemed to softly whisper. “I know. It happened to me too.”
In the weeks that have followed the beginning of this conversation, I have considered that when I am crucified, my arms are outstretched, unable to protect my vulnerable heart. If I am going to give this person the endless number of chances Jesus asks me to, then I will need to make myself vulnerable to them again. I will have to expose my tender heart. I will need to be willing to take another hit for them. More than that, I will need to be willing to take another hit from them.
Grace is freely given. It never cost me anything. He gave it to me in abundance. He says crazy things like, “For if by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
But it was not cheap. It cost Him everything. He was crucified to purchase that grace for me.
Sometimes I think learning to walk in Christ-like fellowship is just learning to take the hit for one another – learning to accept one another as Christ accepted each one of us.
I can’t tell you that I have done an amazing job allowing myself to once again be nailed to a proverbial cross in this relationship. On the contrary, I have very slowly made baby steps toward allowing this person back in. My character is becoming like Christ’s, but it certainly has not yet arrived.
When I think about God’s goodness, I think of something that is so powerfully good that it makes what is bad around it good too. In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul calls us to overcome evil with good. I don’t know all the answers, but me thinks if I had a character more like Christ’s, what is bad around me might become good. I might indeed overcome evil with His goodness.
Until then, this living sacrifice is going to learn to be crucified!
Are there any relationships in your life in which the other person has broken the camel’s back? If they have confessed and repented, have you made wise steps toward forgiveness and reconciliation? Are you willing to take the hit of pain from the sin of your siblings in Christ as they continue to develop the character of Christ?