People in my age group have a unique position within our current era. We saw the cell phone come on the scene and gain popularity. We can remember life before the Internet. In our youth, we were the first adopters of all modern technology and we were also the trial run of social media in our high school and college years. All of these advancements have had a major impact on nearly every aspect of society. In my college marketing program, I was able to see behind the scenes the real-time adjustments that were being made. Between 2006-2009, I was able to sit in with doctoral students who studied Google’s algorithms and analytic tools from the back-end. When Facebook advertising first came out, I worked on a project to use and measure its effectiveness and return on investment as one of its earliest adopters. I worked with various teams exploring the new marketing opportunities and it was an exciting time as we now had unparalleled access to our end consumers. In a very short time, markets began to flood with competition. We began to see magazines, newspapers, and television stations as slow and outdated in sharing the news. People had access to news 24/7, every sport in the world, an expansion of television options and subscription services, and it was all in real time and all in the palm of our hands. People could search Google for anything they dreamed of and it gave them a sense of confidence to now have knowledge enough to voice an opinion. Opinions kept coming from every angle and every viewpoint. Then politicians caught on to these valuable resources and hired people specialized in the art of manipulation to use these new tools. Fast forward 12 years and now here we are. We have political parties and candidates strategizing the delivery of their messages with actual news sources and various social platform executives as they are now extremely proficient in the art of manipulation. The search engines have altered their algorithms so that the information they want people to see covers the first page of results while people believe things are still sorted by relevance.
We the People
We, the people, have been empowered to act as judges in a dysfunctional courtroom where the powers-that-be have their hired hands present their cases. The unbiased data needed to make educated decisions is buried under strategically placed misinformation. The fight for power, the manipulation of the information we are presented, and the focus away from Truth has created a culture of bitterness and unforgiveness. Everyone’s past is being dug up and, in many cases, fabricated. Perfection is demanded from imperfect people who are being judged by imperfect people. Society has become liars, cheaters, adulterers, and murderers judging people for lying and cheating. We use subservient standards to justify evil while at the same time demanding the highest of standards. Scene set.
For Those who Have Ears
I really want people to catch what I am saying because it is imperative to receiving all that our hearts truly long for. The various parties are all demanding perfection. Every position is working to present their plan as the way to achieve a perfect society which is the surest path to power because every person is longing for a solution to the problems that seem so obvious to them and, they assume, to everyone. Each group has a different view of what perfection looks like so, even if one view can be achieved, a large portion of the population will still be unhappy. Only One has seen perfection and He is not represented by the hired hands in the courtroom everyone is focusing on. He has a higher court, and it is only in this court and by His standards that perfection can be replicated. In this courtroom, the liars, cheaters, adulterers, and murderers do not have a say, but stand already judged guilty. The only One able to plead a case is the perfect One, Jesus the Christ, who paid the price for the debt we could not pay. The ones who accept the reconciliation that Jesus made possible in His physical body through His death on the cross are able to identify as children of God and forgiven of lying, cheating, adultery, and murder. Jesus reconciled us IN Himself so we could be presented as holy, blameless, and above reproach in the highest court. We who place our hope in Christ Jesus by obeying His commands are able to present and plead our case before the throne of grace. To be able to be heard in this court we must keep ourselves holy, blameless, and beyond reproach IN Christ which means we plead according to His will and nature. It is all by the grace that this is available to us and through a faith that extends from the hope we have in the finished work of Jesus. It is through this hope that we are quick to forgive as we rely on God to provide restitution and be the perfect judge. The Apostle Paul pleads this case in Romans 12:1-2 when he says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The Indicator Light
Unforgiveness is a symptom of misplaced hope or hopelessness. It is a warning light or the GPS lady saying “Rerouting”. A person who understands what their position in the high court would be without someone to pay their debt so they can plead their case, is incapable of the pride needed to be able to render judgement on someone who is in the same position. One who places their hope in Jesus is quick to forgive in light of the mercies they receive through Jesus’s sacrifice for them. How can I muster up the strength to elevate myself when I did nothing to become who I am? I am forgiven and I am redeemed. “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14) In Matthew 6:12, Jesus instructs His disciples to pray ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’ The prayer assumes that those who call on God as Our Father (i.e. His children) are already obedient to the command to forgive. Let me say this another way- those who truly know God as their father (like Jesus) are not unforgiving. I also want everyone to notice the correlation between forgiving others and being forgiven. A bitter and unforgiving person doesn’t feel forgiven because they haven’t yet surrendered themselves to God. The pride at the root of an unforgiving heart is an indicator of this. To pound this point home for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness:
Matthew 5:7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Matthew 9:13: Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
James 2:12-13: So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
But when we forgive and give it all over to God to be the judge, we receive forgiveness and mercy that then leads our heart to being transformed and rooted in peace. It is here that we begin to reflect the perfect will of God. When we reflect God’s perfect will and present our case before Him in the high court, mountains move as the righteous judge speaks. This truth, I am confident. How confident? This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1John 5:14-15)
In Part 6 I will now venture over to discuss the job of those who understand how much they have been forgiven in what I will title Bearing with One Another.