Tuesday, July 8, 2008
This past Sunday, Rev. Tony preached about forgiveness, taking his text from the Lord's Prayer in the sixth chapter of the Book of Matthew, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Tony brought in the rest of this text wherein Jesus explained that if we do not forgive others, God cannot forgive us. For 35 minutes, Tony drove this home. There was no implied threat here. He was crystal clear that one could not receive forgiveness from God unless one forgives and forgets others for whatever transgression may have been committed.
I totally agree with Tony on this. What's to disagree with, the Bible? I'm not prepared to disbelieve what I believe to be the Word of the Living God. However, I think forgiveness, of ones own accord, is not always possible let alone probable. It is not something that the human condition can bring about without the divine intervention from God.
It is, therefore, my contention that forgiveness comes only in communion with God. By communion, I'm referring to prayer. Praying for our enemies is the only possible way to forgive them. There are wounds that cut so deeply, words cannot describe it. The only balm for those wounds comes from the Holy Spirit. We cannot continue to despise people when we are asking God to forgive them, to heal them, to guide them. We forgive their trespasses, not by our own virtues, for we have no virtues. The Bible is very clear, that there is none righteous.
When we lift our enemies up to God, He calms our spirits and binds our wounds. When we sit quiet and lay the hurt and the venom at the cross, God takes it and casts it into the depths of the sea. When we say, "Father, care for my enemies as you care for me, and forgive my anger." God answers prayer. The hurt may or may not go away over night, but it does subside. It goes away. It's forgotten.
It is my contention that this is the one and only way to get to the point of forgiveness. We have to give it to God. I believe that God is omniscient and knows what we can and cannot do in our state of mortality. I also believe that for a shepherd to admonish his flock for bad behavior without telling it how to correct it is doing only half the job. In this case, Tony's sermon was half of what it should have been. Maybe he'll read this and come back to it next Sunday.