Monday, June 6, 2011

Arms open wide

What happens when we are mad, sad or even frightened? In the depth of our emotions we take our arms and cross them in front of us. It is one of those protection stands we have. Sometimes we don't even notice we do it. We notice when our children do it. Tell a little one no and they will stop their foot and cross their arms over their chest. Okay, maybe we do this as adults too.

When we feel attacked, scared or hurt, we just often bring those arms up as if we are protecting our heart from the blows that are coming. Isn't that where we feel most of our pain? It doesn't matter if it's stones being thrown or words being tossed in the air, our heart hurts when they hit. We cross our arms as if to say, "Please, please don't hurt me."

What is it that, Jesus, did for us? When the world was crucifying Him, He opened His arms wide, laid them before the cross and took our punishment for us. His blood covered each sin. He could have closed His arms up and crossed them over Himself, but He chose to open His arms full wide in love for the whole world. Not just those He liked. Not just those He was getting along with. Not just family or that inner circle of friends. Everyone! Those that attacked Him, lied about Him and tried to destroy Him. Those that looked the other way and refused to believe. Love opens our arms.

Someone recently shared with me, "How can I allow you back in my life when you haven't apologized for all you have done?" My response was, "First, you must share with me what I have done." I wasn't looking for an apology. I wasn't trying to make it all about me, but just wanted to open my arms wide. Sometimes people just don't know how to respond when you open your arms wide. They can't accept that you are willing to forget and forgive all in love. Is that why some choose not to believe in the very God who opened His arms wide for us? Because they simply can't understand that kind of love? I mean, why would He? Why would He give all? He could just condemn us all and turn away from us. God loves unconditionally. We must love in the same manner. We must continue to love even if we are not being loved in return. If we are not being loved in return, well, we must give that over to God and allow Him to work His will and way. All He needs is one person willing to open their arms wide and He can move through them. He can touch others through their willing heart. It's when we close those arms up tight and lock everything in that changes the outcome. We must be vulnerable and open our arms wide so others can see the love of Christ living in us.

In Sunday School we learned what Christ has done for us and who Christ is. Just what has He done for us? Well, lets start with who He is.
Image of God
Head of the body (church)
First Born of Creation
Peace Maker
Fullness of God

What has He done for us?
Brought us peace
He has qualified us
Delivered us
Translated us
Shares His inheritance
Rescued us
Forgiven us
Redeemed us
Reconciled us
Created us
Glorified us in His image
Made us holy, blameless and above reproach

We can read Colossians 1 and see who God is and all He has done for us. We have a God who has opened His arms wide open. There is no greater love. Through Christ we can be all He has created us to be.

"For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight-if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you hear, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became minister." Colossians 1:19-23

We are complete in Christ. He is our Intercessor. He works all things for the good of God for those who believe in Him. Those who do not choose to believe in Him have a hard time envisioning a love they do not understand. None of us can understand God's love. I cannot fathom why He would die for me. A sinner saved by grace.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood,   through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Romans 3:23-26

We must remember we are none perfect. We are going to make mistakes. We must give one another room to make mistakes and be ready to forgive when things don't go the way we think they should. We are a people who expect perfection, but are not willing to accept fault. Nor are we willing to give others room for failure. It's in that room we grow and find truth. Yes, we are perfected in Christ, but as we turn to Him for forgiveness and acceptance, we too, must be willing to forgive the offenses of others and love them as Christ loves us. He calls us to love. Why would He ask any less of us than what He was willing to give? Opening our arms wide open shows His love. It shows we are willing to be vulnerable and accepting. We must not bring about the sins of the past. So many times we tell others, "Why should I forgive you, remember what you did, oh, ten years ago?" If Christ is willing to lay our sins down and forget them, shouldn't we too be willing?

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

Don't allow your pain you feel today turn into a bitterness that will eat you alive. It hurts when others will not love us or open their arms wide. We must turn our pain into prayer. We must remember we are whole in Christ. He completes us. Although we want and expect love from others, we don't always receive it from those we love the most. We cannot live in yesterday. The past is gone. We cannot reclaim it. We must be willing to forgive in Christ. No matter what has happened we can find joy, peace and healing when we accept those around us for who they are. We must stop expecting others to reach a standard even we struggle with daily. Choose to love. Love is a choice. Forgiveness is a choice. Make today the day you open your arms wide in love to those around you and watch God do something big!


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