It Is Who We Are

by | Apr 30, 2018 | Forgiveness, God's Love, Witnessing

It was May 8, 2011. Mother’s day. But in Cairo, Egypt, the atmosphere was far from peaceful and loving!

It all started with an attack against the Virgin Mary Church, followed by firebombs thrown at a Christian-owned apartment complex. Rumors had it that the Christian wife of a Muslim man had been kidnapped by the church.

Hours later, hundreds of Muslims and Christians were hurling stones at one another in downtown Cairo. It’s true that the Coptic Christian protesters had been attacked during their march, however their retaliation was merciless. One of them was caught on TV holding a large wooden cross in one hand and flinging a rock with the other.

I shuddered when I heard this news. I shuddered because it could have been me in that crowd! How many times don’t I lose my temper when things aren’t going my way? How often don’t I avoid people who have hurt me deeply? Haven’t there even been times when I have been tempted to use my fists?

It’s then that I realized that the apostle Paul knew something that we often don’t see. And he did everything he could to enlighten us:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:16-18 NIV)

That’s easy enough to say! After all, was the apostle Paul even attacked as viciously as I have been? He most certainly couldn’t understand what I’ve had to go through! It’s insane! I have rights too, you know!

Let’s see if the apostle Paul concurs:

“I have … been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” (2 Cor 11:23-27 NIV)

Maybe, just maybe, the apostle Paul had a rougher time than most of us will ever experience. Still he never seemed “to loose heart”! Maybe he remembered what Jesus told His disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

We can have peace, inner peace even amidst trouble! Even Jesus tells us to “Take heart!”

But how can we do this?

Paul’s secret was simple: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18 NIV)

This is what filled Paul with adrenaline. This is what gave him courage to face what came his way. This is why he was left undaunted by false accusations. He had his eyes set on the eternal!

In life we have two choices. Jesus’ offer makes us truly alive. Naturally that can only come when we fix our eyes on the unseen. Otherwise we end up with the other option:

“The thief (the evil one) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

Jesus is the opposite of destruction, hate and retaliation. He is life, and he brought life to our planet by being rejected, mocked, beaten beyond recognition, and crucified mercilessly.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:4-5 NIV)

Why did he do this? “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John 15:9 NIV)

Love drove Him. Love should drive us as well!

But how?

“If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt 5:39 NIV)

That’s impossible! Others will take advantage of us!

Is it possible that we are holding too tightly on what is not the unseen? Have we truly denied ourselves to follow the One called Christ?

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt 16:24 NIV)

Forgiveness can only occur if our “I” has been replaced by focusing on the eternal. Only then can we “forgive unconditionally” (Matt 18:35 The Message). Only then will we “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:44-45 NIV)

Just like Jesus, we all have a story to share: “I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” (John 18:37 NIV)

That’s who we are!

What will our story be? Will we bring life or devastation?

It’s not too late to change tracks. The Eternal One can help us focus in the right direction.

Hmmm… What am I doing with a cross in one hand and a stone in the other? The stone feels so satisfying…

But does it really?

Rob Chaffart


It Is Who We Are