Sun, 09/21/2008 – 11:08 — David Watson
Someone has wronged you. That person deserves to pay for that wrong. The wrong has hurt you, disappointed you, frustrated you, and damaged your reputation. That person deserves payback. Most would justify your revenge. But the Way of Christ is to accept the pain as your own, and relate to the person as if the event never happened. This is forgiveness.
Forgiveness always requires the one injured to endure the pain, and perhaps even absorb the pain of the person who inflicted the injury. To forgive is to willingly bear the pain that was wrongly foisted upon us without any negative repercussions for the one who committed the offence. Forgiveness soothes the pain-giver and prevents the community from spiraling down into cycles of accusation, revenge, and destruction of community. When you forgive, the community is led forgive. The community becomes better – more like Christ, who set the standard for forgiveness.
It also requires us to live in community in order to have the strength to forgive as Jesus did. None of us can do this for long on our own. Bearing pain from another or for another is a burden that cannot be borne alone. We are commanded by God’s Word to bear one-another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) as well as forgive one another. This requires us to love one another.
It is interesting to note that if we fail to fulfill any one of Christ’s commands for community, cascading failure to obey all the commands for community will follow. These commands are interlinked. They are stacked like upright poles upon each other, and require each other to stay up. The failure of any pole weakens the structure, requiring less effort to collapse the structure. The only one strong enough to be the stack pole for the structure is Christ. It is our love for Christ, and the position of Christ as the center of Community that permits us to experience community.
One of the reasons many of us are struggling with our churches is that our church is not the community Christ intended for it to be. It may be that Christ is not the head. Leadership has usurped the position of Christ and caused the church to be something it was never intended to be. It may be that the members of the community have forgotten what it means to be disciples of Christ, endeavoring to fulfill God’s call on our lives, and our commitment to obey all the commands of Christ. It may be that we have weakened the poles that are the structure of church, and it doesn’t take much to collapse it.
For church to be what it should be, for community to be all it should be, requires me to obey all the commands of Christ because I love Him, because of His mercy and grace, because without Him we can do nothing.
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15NIV)
Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22 NIV)
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. [“ But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”] (Mark 11:25-26 NIV)
He said to His disciples, “ It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! “ It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. “ Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”(Luke 17:1-4 NIV)
When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. 34 But Jesus was saying, “ Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”(Luke 23:33-34 NIV)
But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree— in order not to say too much—to all of you. Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should ratherforgiveand comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. For to this end also I wrote, so that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. But one whom you forgive anything, I forgivealso; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:5-11 NIV)
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. (Luke 17:3-4 NIV)
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossian 3:13 NIV)