I know that some of you are still stuck on this whole being-honest-about-forgiveness-to-someone's-face thing. You think it's self-victimizing. You think it's a bad idea. You think it's not "safe." You think a lot of things about it. And primarily, you think those things because the culture has created such a narrative around this stuff - a narrative that, we must confess, sounds really good to our ears and makes a lot of human sense - that it's almost impossible to put that narrative aside and imagine any other way.
But we don't have to imagine any other way; we have already been shown it.
It is Jesus.
Jesus already gave us the example of how to handle conflict with love. Of how to handle conflicting cultural narratives with love. Of how to handle judgment with love. Of how to handle truth - and reality - with love. And, of course, in the ultimate display of who God is, how to handle forgiveness...with love.
Not once do we see Jesus picking a fight. Not once do we see Him inserting Himself into something to become a martyr. Not once do we see Him daring someone else to victimize Him. We don't see Him looking for trouble, the way the world's narrative says we will if we try to tell a wicked person we've forgiven them. And, of course, Jesus had plenty of interactions with wicked persons.
Nor do we ever see Jesus avoiding anyone because they might have sinister motives. We don't see Him shying away from anyone because they puff up their chest and display a lot of bravado. Jesus never picked a fight, but He never walked away from a moment of truth, either. We never see Jesus say, "It is best that I not go and talk to/see/touch that person because they might be hurtful or wounding." We don't see Jesus following the cultural narrative.
No, Jesus has another way. Jesus's way is this:
He speaks truth, then walks away.
That's it. He speaks truth, knowing that truth must be spoken, and then He simply keeps moving. He keeps going along His path. He keeps traveling the road God has laid out before Him.
He doesn't wait to see if the truth has landed. He doesn't wait to see if it's changed someone's heart. He doesn't wait to see if it's made an impact. He speaks truth, sowing it like a seed into any situation, and keeps moving. Keeps living. Keeps loving.
Remember when the truth got Him in trouble? He shows up, displays a measure of God's love and goodness, and the people are ready to throw Him off a cliff. But...they can't find Him. He slips through the crowd and is gone. That's because this is exactly what Jesus does - He comes, imparts the truth that needs to be imparted, and just goes on about His life.
It's a really good lesson for all of us. And it turns the culture's narrative on its head.
We can do the same thing. We really can. We can step into something, speak truth, and keep going. We don't have to wait around to see how it goes. We don't have to worry about whether it was received or not. We don't have to argue until we are thanked for our truth or proven "right" or whatever it is that we so often try to stand there and demand. We can just...speak and move on. We can just sow truth like seed and keep moving and let things grow however they will, knowing what Jesus said about any seeds that we put out into the world - some are going to grow and some aren't and that's just how it is.
This is the kind of life I want to live. This is the kind of truth I want to carry. This is the kind of forgiveness I want to offer. This is the kind of love I want to embody.
How about you?