Josh j Smith


Lent : Forgiveness
March 21, 2011, 1:21 am
Filed under: religion | Tags: , , ,

Photograph by Engelina SmithMatthew 5.23-25

23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.

God really wants to forgive us.  Forgiveness is not merely the consequence of confession, but the motivation for us to return to God.  God’s story in scripture shows God’s radical pursuit to bring his people back to himself so that he could forgive them.

I confess that I do not go to great lengths to forgive those who trespassed against me.  I sit.  I wait.  I plot.  It festers.

Henri Nouwen pointed out that it is hard for me to forgive others because I do not believe I am a forgiven person.  Why would I?  I am bored with how repetitious my sins are.  There are times I imagine God saying the same thing I say when I see Friends on TV, “Is there an end to the re-runs? Please, someone, put me out of my misery. ”  My lack of dwelling in God’s forgiving presence continually restricts me from forgiving others.

“But not forgiving, I chain myself to a desire to get even, thereby losing my freedom.  A forgiven person forgives.  This is what we proclaim when we pray, “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us” (Henri Nouwen; Show Me the Way; p44).

Are you going to allow God to forgive you?

Who do you need to forgive?

Do you really want to forgive those who trespassed against you if it was the same thing done to you 490 times (70 x 7)?

Are we a forgiven church?

Are we a forgiving church?

Are we a community where people feel free to seek forgiveness?

Are we able to forgive our persecutors and our enemies?

Do we put limits on who or what we are going to forgive?

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Forgiveness | additional thoughts
November 12, 2007, 8:32 pm
Filed under: society, theology | Tags: , ,

I was reading over my previous post and had additional thoughts.

I thought it was interesting that on Halloween they made sexual offenders post a sign on their door saying “No Candy At This Residence” in Maryland. My wife, Gina, commented that it is smart – keep them away from the temptation of making the mistake again. Gina is very wise. But now everyone will judge and socially outcast that house, that family, that person because of the sign. The names on the internet are a subtle way of communicating the truth, but the sign is full exposure to neighbors, friends, and coworkers.

The problem I have with this is not the necessary action to protect children – please protect children and protect the offenders from hurting children and people. The problem is our exaggerated judgment upon these offenders for their mistakes. Would we treat these people different if everyone else knew all the things we struggle with. If there was a list on our door or on the internet that revealed all our sins, would we be so quick to judge? Would we be so quick to outcast people?

Isolation deceives. We isolate ourselves so that we will not be isolated. We hide the truth from people because we know how they will respond – as if no one else makes mistakes or does things they are embarrassed of. There are too many pastors, leaders, business professionals, husbands, wives, and children that are in isolation because they know that if they confess the truth it threatens their livelihood. At one degree it might be necessary to loose the job or temporarily be isolated from normalcy. So we take the risk of isolating the truth of our inner struggle to avoid isolation from things we depend on – job, friends, family, house, neighborhood, reputation.

Forgiveness frees people to be vulnerable. If we learn to forgive the big and the small offenses, it might save a divorce, stop a school shooting, prevent people from becoming sexual offenders, and hault rising prices caused by thievery (maybe forgiveness is the answer to rising gas prices). Forgiveness is the reason to confess. We might find that upon confessing we put our livelihood at risk, but having our livelihood in isolation is hell on earth. At least, loosing our livelihood for confessing the truth is choosing the road that leads out of hell.

The majority of us would agree that stable marriages, safe schools and neighborhoods are all good things. The Kingdom of God is this and much more, but it means that we must be risky. Jesus came to us with an agenda for us to follow. He knew that people are not going to be vulnerable all the sudden. He knew that people are not going to be radical forgivers unless they see others forgiving them radically. With small, subtle changes in our own life and patterns, we will achieve what we all strived for through our own agenda – making a difference.