The Land of If Only

By James C. Stephens

Hard lesson. It is good to take a moment, take a deep breathe, a selah and meditate on this issue, especially when tensions grow higher over issues beyond our personal control.

A very hard lesson. “How shall I lose the sin, yet keep the sense, and love the offender, yet detest the offense.” -Alexander Pope

Is that not in essence what our LORD Jesus is saying, “Love your enemy as yourself?” It in no way excuses an enemy’s sin which is an abomination to God, but that enemy made in the image of God is still is an image bearer as marred as that image may be.

We too were at one time strangers to His grace and were lost in our sins and trepasses. But how, once saved we forget and become our brother’s accuser rather than his advocate. Is he not but a drowning man, lost in sin and in need of redemption? Why else was he brought across our path? He is before us, a creature to be pitied in his blindness and bondage to self. We intercede. If for only one who might be saved from the fiery furnace and an eternal and unending horror called hell, separated from He who lovingly created you, those whom he or she onced loved, to dwell forever in the land of if only.

Remember, I must tell myself, there is much rejoicing in heaven of one who turns from the path of destruction and returns to Christ. Very hard lesson. Knowing such love from our Savior is it not commanded that we love one another? Knowing such love, can we remain silent when we see a brother racing headlong into hell and leading others astray? No. We must speak or his blood will be on our heads and we like Cain will speak in defiance to God, “Who am I? My brother’s keeper?” Knowing all the while, that it was I who killed my brother Abel.



Published by

James and Elizabeth Stephens

James and Elizabeth Stephens presently live in Southern California and have been married since 1978. In 1999, James completed a MA in Intercultural Studies specializing in Leadership Development and in 2010 Elizabeth completed an Associate in Science in Business Information Technology.

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