We often hear how hard it can be to respond with forgiveness when wronged. Yet we are called to it nonetheless. What we don't hear about as often is the power that lies within this act of forgiveness. The triumph of Jesus over evil is shared with us as we forgive others as we have been forgiven by God.
The following was found written on a wrapping paper at Ravensbruck concentration camp in WW2:
"Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember rather the fruits we brought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness."
I am so grateful for the family of God. In a culture that idolizes individualism, we are called to be a body, a connected entity made one by Jesus Christ.
In Revelation, the message of the vision of Christ was not written for individuals, but as a word to the church, as the messages to the seven churches (ch. 2-3) demonstrate.
Jesus meets us and grows us in this family, with all its frailties and shortcomings, because that is where His Spirit resides and that is where he can best paint a stunning portrait of his grace.
The power of forgiveness is remarkable. When we think of the grace we have received from God through his forgiving of our sins, we are left speechless.
Ephesians 1:7 says, "He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins."
Gone are the excuses, the pretense, the masks. We can do nothing to wash away the ugliness of our sins, or even earn our cleansing. But we come in humility to Calvary and we find freedom! We discover that his forgiveness has the power to transform. This Sunday we will look at Psalm 51 where confession is taught and God's forgiveness is celebrated.
The following quote is from musician Rich Mullins, who wrote 'Our God is an Awesome God'.
"I think I would rather live on the verge of falling and let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God than to live in some pietistic illusion of moral excellence. Not that I don't want to be morally excellent but my faith isn't in the idea that I'm more moral than anybody else. My faith is in the idea that God and His love are greater than whatever sins any of us commit."
Pastor Ward Parkinson