Mar 20, 2009

40 days: plain and simple forgiveness

Just a simple thought today... and it's about forgiveness.

(If there's a command in the Bible that is difficult to keep, certainly this is one of the hardest.)

This past week I witnessed someone give an incredible gift of grace to another. I wish I could go into the details, because it's rather amazing. To honor that exchange and those people, though, I have to leave it at that.

But what I can tell you is what I was again reminded of.

The bottom line regarding grace and forgiveness means I/you don't hold anything against someone that I/you feel we have the right to.

Which, given Jesus and all, should be easier for us than it often is.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.

But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. (1 John 2:9-12)

You might say, "I don't hate _____, but I don't have to be friends with them."

Actually, yeah... you do.

You have no been given permission by God in any situation other than unrepentant sin to snub your nose against someone. By crossing the bridge of sin to reconcile with us, Jesus has asked to "follow Him" and do the same.

I know that runs against the grain of what society teaches, but that's just the point - a broken way of doing things only leads to more brokenness.

You will know this is truly working in your life when you think of that certain person and poison doesn't come up to the top of your neck as bile ready to spit out.

If you're still holding a grudge that you feel superior about...

you can let it go already...
or keep on drinking the poison.
It's time to bring yourself to into alignment with what you have received from God and the length He's asked you to cross to extend it to another.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)


Dew of Hermon said...

Very useful meditation on the most difficult of all graces (at least, for me). It is one of Jesus' most unequivocal instructions and yet it is the one that we often try to 'explain away'

Anonymous said...

it is hard to let go - especially when you have been hurt. But, as all things with Christ it is a journey.

A comment about last Sunday. I was again troubled by the declaration (John, who did a nice job speaking) that some things in the bible are forever and others open to modern interpretation. Citing marriage as "one man and one women" as eternal, but clothing covering all but women's eyes as no longer relevant.

Who decides? Individuals? The Church? Who has the right? Jesus taught about not casting the first stone, but we need/I need to be able to tie the bible teachings to our lives now. Again, who decides? Christian, and other, denominations each have their own opinions/rules regarding what in the scriptures is now relevant and what isn't.

I struggle with the notion that any of us, preachers or lost souls, can judge what is okay.

I wrote the response regarding "what preachers won't discuss" that you responded to asking for identity. I have no personal stake in gay marriage, but it triggers in me angst of issues regarding not only love, but of women's roles, children's rights, and judgement in the bible.

Again, who decides what is true now?

Random thoughts from an evolving Christian,

Tony Myles said...

A very astute question... one that people brighter than me have been wrestling with for years.

Here's my swing at it... it requires a bit of length, so pardon the dust.

Who decides? God does. And while He gets the final word, much *has* been revealed in/through the Bible. Jesus said our worship of Him would be at its best when it was "in Spirit and in truth."

So that means a combo of both.

There are some concrete declarations in Scripture; there are some contextual commands as well. In between both are eternal themes - things we can bank on having a unique context in our culture that are different in context previous ones, but never changing that eternal truth.

Much like the New Testament doesn't cancel the Old Testament but more fully reveals it.

And I think that's what fascinates me most about the Bible - it is less of an answer book on everything and more a book about relationships and covenants between God and us. It's like God purposefully wanted us to be in conversation with Him and each other on this stuff. The Bible wasn't given to us to show us we're right, but to show us that God is right and without His grace and revelation we're just guessing.

The thing that I keep seeing more and more of is how we live in a culture that tries to make policy based on empathy alone. Without an anchor of truth, empathy is at the mercy of the loudest voice in the room and/or the person who has been hurt the most and doesn't want to see anyone hurt either. And so tolerance wins and policy is made on the avoidance factor.

That's like not disciplining our kids because we didn't like it. Imperfect metaphor, I know. But logic I hear abused in way too many contexts.

Which is one reason why I believe a Church needs to be a biblical community. Way too many churches start out rebellion or rejection of the last experience of those people... "we're not like those guys." That's dangerous footing, because it again starts out of emotion and not grounding. Instead of doing our own thing and hoping God's okay with it, we need to study what He's done and is doing to better figure out how to join Him.

And not just in activity, but in belief - if my 21st century empathy for a cause/people is unbiblical, I need to change. The problem is that a lot of people are trying to reverse the process and change the Bible - I've seen the uglly side of that, from Christians who become morally legalistic by adding rules that don't exist (to look down on others)... to others who like their lifestyle, don't want to give it up, and are stretching/changing concepts and contexts in Scripture to fit their paradigm (let's face it - it's in our nature to try to change God's ideas than it is to leave parts of ourselves behind in order to live in His ideas).

Which is sort of where this particular post on forgiveness started.

The bottom line? It's a big mess. And yet Jesus knew it would be and still entrusted His Church to a handful of imperfect disciples.

So maybe if we can keep our motive one of surrender to God, I think we stand a better chance of healthier conclusions. Following Him in "Spirit" means I have an active radar up to Him (something I'll talk more about on Sunday); and following Him in "Truth" means Someone outside of our brains has determined right and wrong.

Remember - a culture mildly without God in one generation will naturally be without Him to a greater degree in the next; and then more in the next; and so on. Perhaps this is why in the end times there will be great persecutions of people who cling to the declarations of Scripture.

I don't know what that will look like... but I know I want to be one of them.