Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just Forgive?

I've struggled with this issue for many a year ... How does one really forgive one persons inhumanity to man? Things like pedophiles, rape, domestic violence, severe emotional abuse, the list can go on and on. Time and time again I come across this ... My family members, neighbors, coworkers ... How does one forgive such wounds?

It's hard to imagine for those of us who have not suffered in this way. It's easy to say the standard Christian response, "Just forgive" those who have done these unspeakable crimes against you. Is that all Christianity has to offer? How do they get to this point of forgiveness? More than anything we need Jesus to cradle us, with divine love, hold us in His arms with gentle care and firm protection and restore us to ourselves as a treasured and loved being.

And that's what He does ... Before we forgive, Christ comes to dwell in us by faith. Paul uses this image repeatedly for God's relationship to our bodies and souls ... The image of a temple. 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" NKJV -Our bodies are sacred places! The flame of God's presence shines in them! Our minds and bodies may be tattered, they may even be desecrated by human hatred and folly ... And yet they are holy, sanctified as the dwelling place of the Holy One. Our "temples" will be restored one day to their full splendor. This restoration starts in the here and now when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ makes a dwelling place in our fragile bodies. Acts 11:9, "But a voice from heaven answered a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.'"

Eventually the time to forgive will come for the wounded ones. They may forgive with one part of their soul while desiring vengeance with another. They may forgive one moment then take it back the next time. They may begin to forgive the lighter offenses but not the major ones. Such tentative and hesitant attempts are not even close to full fledged forgiveness, but they are a start. Let's remember and be careful not to trample underfoot the tender plant of forgiveness that seeks to break through the hard crust of vengeance they have protected themselves. If we water that plant with the "living water" of God's inexhaustible love and goodness, one day it will grow sturdy enough to bear fruit. The Potter is at work (Isaiah 64:8), He will bring to completion what He has begun! (Philippians 1:6)

Tim, still a strugglin' ....


Heidi said...

This is an AWESOME, AWESOME post!
Thanks for offering these profound thoughts and for making unattainable forgiveness seem attainable. With His help, it is possible. I have been brooding over this myself in the past few days, because of a national news story I heard that disturbed me greatly. I have not suffered in the way many others have. I myself was wondering, how do they ever forgive??? This entry was wonderful and helped me in my own mind-sorting of the issue.
Heidi Rafferty
Harrodsburg, KY

Wasteland Ministries said...

I have found it's easier for me to forgive big things, that it is for me to forgive the small.

I forgave the people who abused me when I was younger (though I did have to go back at it and realize I needed to not only forgive them for the offense, but also for the destruction that abuse caused me for many, many years to come), but God help my husband if he doesn't ask me how my day was the second he walks in the door!