Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
In this challenging passage, Jesus invites us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. We typically like the first half of this clause a lot more than the second half! We are good at being forgiven, but not always great at taking the step to forgive others. And yet this is a central Christian call. The message of forgiveness is something Jesus teaches, preaches, and lives out until his dying breath. The command to forgive others is strong in Jesus’ sermons. In fact, right after the Lord’s prayer, Jesus says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15). It’s almost as if Jesus is saying, “can you hear me now?!!!”
Forgiveness is important to God and vital for our salvation, but it’s tricky and we often miss the mark. We replace true biblical forgiveness with tolerance, leading to long-term grudges and a lack of trust within the Christian community. Since trust is essential for flourishing relationships and ministry, churches especially suffer due to a lack of forgiveness in the family.
How do we go about this then? How is it even possible to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us? Two strategies are: (1) learning to see others as a mixture of both good and bad tendencies; and (2) striving to avoid judging others based on the worst thing they’ve done.We explored the following quote from Richard Rohr to help us out:
…two thirds of Jesus’ teaching is directly or indirectly about forgiveness! To forgive, you have to be able to see the other person – at least momentarily – as a whole person, as an image of the Divine, containing holiness and horror at the same time. In other words, you can’t eliminate the negative. You know they’ve hurt you. You know they did something wrong. You have to learn to live well with paradox, or you can’t forgive. The trouble with so much conventional religion is the cultural attitude of, ‘well, I’ll forgive them when they’ve earned it, when they’ve proven themselves.’ That’s not forgiveness, that’s a deal! God loves you precisely in your obstinate unworthiness, when you’re still a mixture of good and bad, when you’re gloriously in flux. (Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: Trinity and Your Transformation, 134).
Can we learn to love one another in our common “obstinate unworthiness?” Can we learn to accept the human experience of paradox, and not judge one another on the worst of what we’ve done? Forgiveness (our own and others) depends on it. May God bless us as we seek to forgive as we have been forgiven.
Sixteen backpacks full of non-perishable items will be picked up by students at Fir Grove, and half of those families have also asked to receive fresh foods (milk, eggs, butter, bread, meat). Thank you, Westside, for your generosity in supporting these students and families through what may otherwise be long, hungry breaks!
This week, the Human Resources, Neighbor Connections, and Community Leaders teams all met. Thank you to everyone for your faithful service and commitment to being the hands and feet of Jesus, and seeing Jesus in the face of those you meet. If you haven’t yet joined a team, please consider joining one!
Next week we will look at the powerful phrase, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” We will explore what it means to be delivered from evil and how we can experience true redemption from the evil that exists in our world through the work of the devil.
Those who met in the adult auditorium class were blessed to engage in a great class led by Jasper Bawcom. Jasper helped us think through prayer and invited us to reflect on the differences between public and private prayer. What does it mean to pray without ceasing? Given our common definition and understanding of prayer, is that even possible? Jasper helped us think through a new definition of prayer and offered this intriguing question, “What if prayer is noticing God and recognizing holy moments?” Thanks to Jasper and please join us next week as we talk about how to pray when God seems silent, and consider questions of why we pray in the first place.