Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Have We Forgotten How to Forgive?

Very rarely do I take up the cause of what is going on in the world of reality television, but it seems lately whenever people are found to live less than worthy lifestyles by our own standards and their sins are put on public display, we, as believers in Jesus Christ, condemn them far worse that non believers do. In fact, it would be acceptable for the media to have that sort of field day with people who haven't disclosed things from their past and now they shine the proverbial light on it for all the world to see.

Thank God, in all honesty, that our lives are like that. For the media to have a field day with all our sins from our past, or even for the ones we may have fallen short of yesterday or even today and committed.

As believers in Jesus, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to understanding what forgiveness looks like. It's like we feel there are some sins, that are obsolete from forgiveness. Now, I'm not for condoning any such sinful actions in any person's life, but if they have asked for forgiveness and are trying to live a life that shows they have turned from that lifestyle, who are we, to continue to roast them over the fires of righteousness. It would be a far different matter, if that person was living a lie and hadn't made any type of repentance and was continuing to live out their sinful life despite claiming that have changed.

What really grieves my soul, are those "Christians" who feel compelled to launch another stone at the sinner! Since when have our actions lead us down this dark path? Oh Lord, that the church would stand before you in true repentance for doing this and remember all your valued words of wisdom when facing any sinner. He has always forgiven them, and never condemned them.

In fact, I would be so bold to say, in light of Josh Duggar's story coming to light that he had sexually abused children in his past, that Jesus would forgive him instantly, and tell him to go and sin no more. He wouldn't stand there and say, "Oh but this sin is so much worse than say lying, or committing adultery, people are hurt by this and need some sort of response from the Christian community. So this is one I'm not going to be able to forgive."

No, I think Jesus even now is so broken by how the world is condemning Josh Duggar, the pain the victims will have to work out in time, and that the Christian community isn't standing by and supporting the very ethics of the faith we swear to live by.

Christians in fact, are the only ones, who shot their wounded. Jesus reminds us that when a church or members of a church do this, we are spiritually dead and we'd better wake up.

Revelation 3:3 ~ "Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know what time I will come for you." (NIV). 

We, as believers in Christ, are the ones the world is watching to see how we display our ability to forgive when faced with public persecution. I am NOT condoning what he did, but to sit back and watch "Christians" stand with non believers and say how wrong this is, and that he needs to be punished by whatever means possible, is completely and 100% wrong. I've even seen Christians stand up in support of Josh Duggar and the power of forgiveness again to be blasted by Christians and Non Christians alike. What a dark and troubled world we truly live in. No wonder why the world judges Christians so harshly. Where is the love of the church in times like this?

I feel sorry for people who have been crucified by the public for making mistakes because of where they are in the public eyes. From Tiger Woods, and his extra marital affairs to all the reality show celebrities, John and Kate makes 8, Duck Dynasty and now 19 Kids and Counting. When will it all end?

Galatians 6:1 ~ "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." (NIV)

Even Peter struggled with how many times do we have to keep on forgiving people who mess up and Jesus clearly instructed in Matthew 18:21, ~ "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (NIV). 

We have heard time and time again about countless examples of people who have forgive those who have committed horrible crimes against themselves. Corrie Ten Bloom when faced with the very man who tortured her and her sister asked her for forgiveness, she willingly gave it to him. (Corrie Ten Bloom - Story on Forgiveness). She even highlights that those who were able to forgive their former enemies, despite their physical scars move in their lives, while those who couldn't, remained invalids.

There was the West Nickel Mines Amish School Shooting in October 2006 which killed 10 students. Instead of condemning the killer and his family, the Amish community and some of the parents opted instead to forgive.  Something most of us, could simply never do if we were faced in similar circumstances. 

Jesus is pretty clear on what as believers we are instructed to do.

Matthew 6:14-15 ~ "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. " (NIV)

Luke 14:4 ~ "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, "I repent, forgive him."(NIV).

Colossians 3:13 ~ " Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (NIV).

Ephesians 4:32 ~ "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

The parable of the Unmerciful Servant is one that I use whenever I am facing the emotions when I don't want to forgive someone who has hurt me, and it applies here as well. The story is of how one servant owed his master quite a bit of money, about 10 million dollars, and was going to face imprisonment for failing to pay it back, when he begs for mercy, the master gave it to him. However that same servant also had someone who had borrowed a small amount from him, about $19.00 and when faced with the same situation, instead had no mercy and had him thrown in prison since he couldn't pay. When the master heard about it, he called the servant on it and asked why he could forgive him as he had been forgiven. In his anger, the master had him thrown in prison as well. The moral Jesus gave is this, "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." - Matthew 18:23-35 (NIV).

A strong reminder of just how we will face our own forgiveness in the eyes of Jesus, if we insist on condemning people who have asked for forgiveness. Josh Duggar may not be asking the public for his forgiveness, and he certainly didn't need to disclose his "sins" to the world, but we, as a body of believers in Jesus, should be the first, to stand by and support our beliefs in what true forgiveness should look like, and jump off of our stoning and persecution of this man. Sin is sin. There are no varying degrees of sin, except for those who know better, who know it is a sin, and sin anyway thinking they can just ask for forgiveness later on.

I am aware that there are victims of what Josh Duggar has done in his past, and we can certainly lift them up in prayer and ask for the Holy Spirits to work on healing their hearts and minds, Trust me, it is possible for God to remove and fade those memories away. Remember the Bible instructs us to forgive, the forgetting will come in time and only through the power of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness for a Christian is NOT optional, is it commanded.

Psalm 103:12 ~ "As far as the east is to the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." (NIV).

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Excellent article.