In addition to the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates, western Pennsylvania is home to many Amish families. The Amish are a sect of Christianity that promotes simple living and plain dress. Due to their emphasis on separation from worldliness, they aren’t permitted to drive automobiles or utilize many modern conveniences. While it’s not uncommon to see Amish folks around some of the smaller Western PA towns, they must always walk, ride by horse and buggy, or hire a driver to get them where they want to go.
Every now and again I’ll see an Amish person say or do something that just doesn’t seem to fit. Like the morning several friends and I had breakfast in a restaurant while rehashing the drama of the most recent Steeler’s football game. Quite unexpectedly the older Amish fellow at the next table joined the conversation to share his critique of the team’s play. And while what he said seemed reasonable, we all stared at each other thinking that something wasn’t right. Being Amish and watching Steeler’s football on TV just seems like an odd mix!
Another fairly common sight is to see an Amish woman buying a case of cola at the supermarket. That scenario always makes me chuckle.
Now, it’s really not my concern whether Amish people watch TV or drink Coke (or Pepsi for that matter). My point is simply that such actions by a few individuals don’t seem to fit their professed Amish way of life. We’re left scratching our heads and wondering exactly what these folks are about.
And so it is with bitterness in the life of a Christian. It’s out of place! Jesus very clearly emphasized the importance of forgiveness to the point of loving our enemies. Even many non-Christians continue to admire the stand that He took and the example that He set in this regard.
To profess Christ is to align ourselves with His lifestyle of love. Bitterness and hatred just don’t fit the life of a Christian. When people taste or see ill-fitting bitterness in our lives, they aren’t left in wonder at God’s goodness. Instead they wonder what’s wrong with the picture and whether or not Christianity is for real.
I realize that forgiveness is not necessarily easy and that many contributing factors may be involved. (I do hope to address some of these things in the near future.) Still, we cannot forget that some scenarios in life just don’t work. The coldness of a bitter root in the midst of a warm-hearted faith is one of them. If we love God and long to see Christ’s sacrifice accomplish its full potential, we’ll find a way to forgive those who have hurt us.