Pay It Forward

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Sometime before the onset of puberty, I had an imaginary friend.  I asked for extra cookies so that he could have one.  I’m crying as I imagine why any kid would feel like he needs to put others before himself at such a young age.

Hello.  Most of us don’t mind rules, until they affect us personally. It’s so easy to take a stance when it doesn’t involve flesh and blood. Things change when it’s time to think about how topics like divorce flesh out. There are always people with scars and fresh wounds; people who are still searching; people whose future exposure to Christ might be hanging in the balance; people with fragile faith; people who will never embrace the idea of resurrection because something crumby happened to them as a kid.

When you go through the bible, verse by verse, you’re bound to deal with some touchy subjects sooner than later. For example, divorce. This is a major issue today. I’m sure many people you know have  been effected by it’s ramifications somehow. If you’re not careful, you can read what God has to say about this subject and totally misunderstand it, especially based on today’s culture.

Take for instance the phrase, “And no man may separate what God has joined together.” (Mark 10:5-9, TLB). Jesus said that Moses allowed divorce because men’s hearts were hard. If he hadn’t allowed it, there would have been mutiny. How can God be so insensitive? Good question. Here’s the deal.

We live in a time when people can divorce and go on living quite comfortably. It’s not uncommon for women to work today or to remarry.  Then again, there are people in asylums and prisons because their father went out and never came back or their mother felt a sudden need to find somewhere where there wasn’t any pain.  Not always a good recipe, especially for young, developing hearts and minds.

Now rewind the tapes. What if God is against divorce, because He’s for people? Especially women. In New Testament times, women had fewer options. Men fended for their families and women cultivated the home. They trained the children.  Wrapped them in their arms when they fell down and scraped their knee and put a Band-Aid on it. Said kind words.  Listened.  Prayed to God.  Provided nourishing meals and opportunities to reconnect after a long day.   Again, not because they were inferior but because they were important. People have the idea that God hates women and that’s just not true. In fact, He tells husbands to love their wives, like Christ loved the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus provided for his wife (the Church) while he was still alive, to the point of dying for her on a bloody cross and turned over the sheets of soil to get out of the grave.  He was and is the greatest husband who ever lived.  He dealt Death a death blow and hung an “Out of Order” sign on the gates of Hell.  As a Husband, he put the needs and comfort of his wife above his own.

Despite the example of Christ, the idea crept into society that women are dispensible. Not true! For instance, some Rabbi’s allowed that if your wife burned your toast, you could file for divorce. Talk about cowardly Rabbis. Man likes a binding contract until it becomes too hot in the kitchen. Then they usually look for the nearest exit!  Meanwhile, women who were ‘put away’ found themselves tossed out in the streets like trash. They had no rights, position, and worse yet, no income in society. God knew the fate of these women since before the world began and instituted the law against divorce so that it wouldn’t happen. When it did, there was always a wake of wreckage and hurting people. You couldn’t just go out and get a job or marry anyone you wanted to.  In some cases women starved  to death or were forced to make a living however they could, even if it meant stepping outside of ethical boundaries.

Jesus’ teaching on this subject highlights God’s love. It’s not meant to be a curse. The picture it paints is of an All Wise Creator who loves his creation and wants the best for it. The unity between a wife and man was meant to remain intact even if there was a physical separation. If a man left his wife, he was  still supposed to support her and provide for the needs of her and any children. The Pharisees were looking for an escape clause when they brought this topic up, and unlike the lenient Rabbi’s, Jesus wasn’t about to grant one. I don’t know about you, but I can love that kind of God.

That was a huge step forward in that day in age. Other cultures devalued women and made no provisions for their well-being. It was a big deal when Jesus came onto the scene and reaffirmed his Father’s original intentions. And the ramifications of his actions are still in effect today.

The next time you come across something in life that seems like it’s against you, take a few moments to think about how it might be designed to work in your favor. It’s so easy to  be cynical. To get hardened.  To believe everyone is out to get you. To embrace the idea that the world is a cold, horrible, meaningless place. That’s not to say that all rules and regulations are good ones. Or even half good. Man has always done an excellent job of taking God’s loving guidelines and twisting them. But in God’s ways you’ll always discover unimaginable love and comfort.

Do yourself a favor today and  open the prison doors of the people who have hurt you and set them free.  You can let yourself off the hook, but God can and He’s more than glad to when you love and forgive those who need your love and forgiveness.  Before the Dr. hung you upside down and smacked your tush, there stood a bloody cross and a glorious resurrection!  Who are we to exact a penalty that has already been paid in full?  Friday’s gone and Sunday’s coming.  Don’t miss out on Saturday!

“And why did he say that?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you why- it was a concession to your hardhearted wickedness. But it certainly isn’t God’s way. For from the very first he made man and woman to be joined together permanently in marriage; therefore a man is to leave his father and mother, and he and his wife are united so that they are no longer two, but one. And no man may separate what God has joined together.” (Mark 10:5-9, TLB).

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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