Archives For Forgiveness

dinnerWe’ve all heard the stats – that 60-90+ percent of our communication is non-verbal! Actual words are only a part of the message we send.  Certainly Jesus relied on more than the spoken message, as vital and powerful as his teaching was!

Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom’s arrival – in many ways. People were healed of disease; demons were cast out and defeated; he chose 12 to be his messengers. AND he did something else. He ate with tax collectors and “sinners.” His body talked.  In our series, “I am a Disciple,” Mark 2:13-17 tells the story of Jesus calling Levi (later ‘Matthew’) to follow Him. We called the sermon, “The Eating Habits of a Disciple.

We need to see ourselves in this story in two ways:
First, we are all radically INCLUDED SINNERS. Jesus came to save sinners – like you and me! (1 Timothy 1:12-17) The religious teachers of Jesus’ day excluded most of humanity and most of their fellow Jews with their heavy load of man-made laws smothering the heart of God’s Law. So they couldn’t handle Jesus consistent choice of dinner companions. But they got it all wrong! Jesus wasn’t being soft on sin – he was strong on true repentance and healing. Jesus was the holy physician, shouting with bold compassion that “holiness is not fragile – but powerful” to transform and change broken, sinful people into his very likeness and image.

Second, Like Levi throwing a party for his tax collector buddies, we are called to be radically INCLUSIVE DISCIPLES. “Imitate me,” Jesus says to us. Make a statement by who you hang out with. I agree with Larry Crabb that the Church should be “The Safest Place on Earth” – to meet Christ and spiritual friends who help us grow from where we are, to where we are meant to be.

There is room for every kind of background and past sinful experience among members of Christ’s flock as we learn the way of repentance and renewed lives, for “Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified (made whole), you were justified (made righteous) in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  (2 Corinthians 6:11)  This is true inclusivity.

Richard Bewes, All Souls Church, London (in Washed and Waiting p. 44)

Are there people Jesus would love to invite to dinner – who you would rather not? If so, who is in greater need of repentance?

It was George MacDonald, quoted in an anthology by C.S. Lewis who said that “unforgiveness is spiritual murder.” Jesus did not mince words when he said,

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Mat. 6:14-15)

In a recent sermon, we explored the nature of true forgiveness. Part of our “Mind the Gap” series. I think you’ll find some very practical help with the complexities of maintaining a forgiving spirit.

O holy Jesus who didst for us die,
     And on the Altar bleeding lie,
Bearing all Torment, pain, reproach, and shame.
     That we by virtue of the same,
     Though enemies to God, might be
     Redeemed, and set at liberty.
          As thou didst us forgive,
So meekly let us Love to others show,
     And live in Heaven on Earth below!

_Thomas Traherne, 1637-74, from “Christian Ethicks”