Lord' to tell me that forgiveness is the default position for Christians, but when it comes to actually forgiving someone who has wronged me, all sorts of questions come into my mind.
What about fairness and justice? What about my hurt? And if, when 1 hold out my olive branch it's not well received, how often should I forgive?
Surely I need a 'word from the Lord?' Well, no, he's already answered my question, 'Not seven [times], but I tell you seventy-seven,' Jesus told Peter.
Walking in the Spirit
St Paul describes living the Christian life aright as 'walking in the Spirit.' Walking, putting one foot in front of the other, taking the next step, simply doing the next thing we know is right and having faith that God will bring good even, if we can't see how things will work out.
As we start to do this, as we start to 'walk in the Spirit,' we'll find that God's chosen direction for our lives becomes clearer. We'll 'hear from the Lord', in increasingly unmistakable ways and maybe, one still night, in the half-light of a flickering lamp, we will hear God calling our name too. May I wish you all the best for 2017.
How then shall we live?
At vicars school, my ethics tutor defined Christian ethics like this: 'How then, shall we live? We've become Christians, what now? How do I know what God wants me to do? We know what to do in general terms - pray, read the Bible and so on, but what specifically should I be doing today?
How do I know? Wouldn't life be so much easier if I, like the boy Samuel in the Old Testament, late one night, in the half-light of a flickering lamp, I heard God call my name - 'Keith, Keith,' and he told me exactly what he wanted. Samuel was lucky. He heard directly from God.
Moving beyond expectations
In biblical times, clear direction from God in various ways (although not every day occurrences) was part of many people's experience, which doesn't seem to be the case so much now. Why is this?Maybe we don't hear because we're not expecting it. Our culture militates against the idea of the supernatural so we must free ourselves from society's anti-supernatural bias.
Acting on what we know
But more generally, we will sense God's direction more clearly when we are doing what we already know to be his will. I don't need a 'word from the