During lent we are going to be looking at different Spiritual disciplines which make us better able to love God and others. This week we are looking at ‘forgiving others’.
The obvious place to go would be that of the Lord’s Prayer, where we pray: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
God wants to show us his forgiveness, because sin needs to be broken down. Any barrier that gets in the way of God having a relationship with us needs to be destroyed. Scripture speaks of sin being a debt that needs paying. News Flash people, the debt has been paid. We know this for ourselves, we are made whiter than the snow, our debt is paid, we can be confident in the cross of Christ and the fact that the battle is won. We can be confident, as Mark said on Sunday, that our names are written in the book of life.
Although this is a fact, a fact that cannot be disputed, we cannot forget the second half to this section of the Lord’s Prayer. We are called to forgive those who have sinned against us.
Forgiveness is a process which we need God’s help with.
We are in a covenant relationship with the Father, and as such we have a Kingdom responsibility to be his representatives here on earth. This means bringing healing, restoration, deliverance and forgiveness where ever we go.
“The Christian life is a recurring process of reconciliation with God and neighbour” (James White)
Having felt the love of God and Known his forgiveness we are in a prime-position to help restore the lives of others by showing them the kindness which we have received from our Father. Jesus’ life illustrated forgiveness, and as Disciples of Christ we are imitators, so we too should be illustrating forgiveness. There is no doubt that we need God’s help in this, and the Spirit can help us grow into the role of forgiver, as well as forgiven.
“It’s all too easy to take bitter and anger to the grave. Instead, we should take it to Jesus.” (J John)
Jesus really is the answer. He is not only our redeemer, but the redeemer of family, friends, colleagues, and even our enemies. For us to live a ‘full life’ we need to be letting go of the baggage that drags us down, and letting God take this burden for us.
Community helps us live a forgiven, and a forgiving, life
There are times when although we know the truth, that we are forgiven, we sometimes need reminding of this fact. Having people around us who know us, and have permission to speak into our lives can be of great comfort, even if at times challenging. Hearing the words – “you are forgiven” can be transformational. These are words that can heal the soul.
“Wouldn’t it make a difference if you could go up to Jesus, tell him your sin, pour out you heart to him, feel him reach out and touch you in response, and hear him saying to you with a human voice full of love and compassion, “your sins are forgiven. Go in Peace”?
We are representatives of Jesus, and have been given authority to do the things he did during his earthly ministry. So get alongside your community, and your people of peace, and speak the words Jesus wants them to hear. But also, why not model this too, make yourself vulnerable, and offer them the chance to hear your confession and remind you of the forgiveness which is waiting for you.
Confession is not a dirty word. It is a prerequisite to forgiveness. It is a discipleship tool where we can come together examine our lives in the light of what we read in scripture and respond to what we hear God saying.
Remember though a promise to be a forgiving people as well as a forgiven people is not a prediction but a commitment to keep trying, and bring the Kingdom closer to all we come into contact with.
Have a Great Week