Friday, May 18, 2012

Reflections on the spiritual discipline of forgiveness with an expression of envy from a humanist on the Christians ability to forgive.

SCRIPTURE: Luke 23:34 (NIV)
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

STORY as told by John Stott:
Not long before she died in 1988, in a moment of surprising candor in television, Marghanita Laski, one of our best-known secular humanists and novelists, said, "What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me." 
On the surface forgiveness sounds so simple. “Just forgive and move on” is heard many times in the course of living. Easier said than done … much easier said than actually accomplished. Don’t we envy those who are able to do that on a regular basis? It becomes obvious that forgiveness is a part of their spiritual discipline … a corner stone … it holds their life together … and the best part, confessed by a forgiver, is that they sleep well every night.

Each of us has individuals in our life that have contributed to a situation that demands forgiveness. We’ve been emotionally injured. Our reputation has taken a blow. We’ve been lied to. We have been used. We have been abused. We have been maligned. We have been robbed … and we have the cuts and bruises of the emotional, mental and/or spiritual injury to prove it.

Here is an experiment shared some years ago by a much wiser person than myself. He said that when he couldn’t get passed a particular wrong – because he found the “just forgive and move on” advice a little too shallow – he would find a quiet corner, preferably in a sanctuary, and sit there thinking about the wrong. He would pull paper and pen out and write a long letter to the individual in question. He made a point to emphasis that they were long, long letters.

He went on to share that in the writing he would be as angry as possible as well as shed more than a few tears as the remembrance would inch its self from the depths of his soul. After a length of time he would conclude the letter with a plea for forgiveness. And then, he would get up and carry it to the altar of the church. Standing there he would surrender the pain and the individual to the Lord. And then … taking the letter outside and burn it. Done … completed … finished … forgiven … forgotten … forever.

Sometimes, he said, the relationship was righted on its own terms, but most of the time it wasn’t. But, he didn’t carry the burden any longer. Oh, by the way, he said that after one of these “forgiveness sessions” he would be so spent that he would go home and sleep for many hours.

Maybe there needs to be some bonfires of forgiveness letters ignited throughout our communities. As for me, I think there are some letters to been written. How about you?

We desire to follow our Jesus’ example and forgive those who have wronged us, but Lord, it is hard. We need your help – tons of it. Please help us to move on in our lives. Help us to move past these barriers that are holding us back.

QUOTE from Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, page 29 – reflecting on the Luke account quoted above:
And when you think about it, they didn’t. They hadn’t the faintest idea what they were doing. They were a stir-crazy mob, mad at something they couldn’t see so they took it out on, of all people, God. 

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