Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
A Reflection re: Forgiveness
Many Christians speak of forgiveness. Often this has to do with God’s forgiveness of us and how we get it. I hope to address this also. We certainly need God’s forgiveness but how do we get there?
Mathew 6:15: “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NIV) “He that had shed my blood was afraid of having his hand cut off, for striking me in the church, as they called it; but I forgave him, and would not appear against him.” (George Fox, Works, Vol 1, page 137)
There is no real hope of God’s salvation without coming to and through this. Some Early Friends report that the Gospel brought them into a time or times of turmoil when everything was to be turned upside down, an apocalyptic destruction of their prior religious/social understanding. I am now convinced this includes the most basic of hurts we often hold tightly when it seems we have given over much else.
As the Gospel and its Declarer work within us, it is often the ‘low hanging’ fruit of our prior life that is first addressed. As we submit to this, those things are judged and cleansed. This is often accompanied by joy, release, openings and even ministry to others. But where there has been injustice, abuse or betrayal, the inward work may begin to stall as it hits a deeper core of resentment and anger that we feel is ours by right. We recoil at what the Light reveals in us. “It is mine; I have a right to it!” If we get this far, we may fit some of the images in the parable of the Sower. This is trouble that reveals the convincement is yet too shallow; Hardpan has been found and real faith begins to wither. Or, there may be some progress but mixed with these thorns that faith remains small and unfruitful.
When we “hit the wall” regarding forgiveness, we are vulnerable to the wiles of the Enemy and usually find ourselves in the unhappy company of the Accuser of our brothers and sisters. But there is no rest here. Existence is both too crowded and too lonely. Remember those fearful and restless spirits in the Legion Jesus sent packing.
The only hope is to come back to the Light that has healed before. It hurts. But the only right that counts is the one taught us to become the children of God. There is the unbinding on earth that unbinds the heart to become heaven, the home of God and Christ. For these children, there is enough room for joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness. There is enough room to love one another. There we can even be taught to love the enemy we could/would not forgive before.
Being led to, brought back to and taught how to forgive is only one work of Christ in our transformation. But for some of us, it is the most difficult. Submit. If we turn away from this, the loneliness is worse than before.
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