Forgive Me

Pastor Don Prewitt

07-23-17

 

Romans 5:8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Romans 14:10-12
10 But why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you look down on your brother or sister? We all will stand in front of the judgment seat of God.

11 Because it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me,and every tongue will give praise to God.
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Matthew 8:9-13 Pray like this:
Our Father who is in heaven,
uphold the holiness of your name.
10 Bring in your kingdom
so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.

11 Give us the bread we need for today.
12 Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you,
just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.
13 And don’t lead us into temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

Matthew 8:14-15 14 “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.

Illustration about my accident this week:
*When I was pacing the middle of the road Friday evening, a bit in shock. I wanted so badly to go over to the persons car who hit me and yell at them, to ask them where their head was, to acknowledge my pain was their fault. But she couldn’t do that because she was in so much pain herself, unable to get out of the drivers seat. A lot of us have issues of unforgiveness. I guess we understand a little better when a daughter is having trouble forgiving an abusive father t but it gets just as complicated if we let small matters of unforgiveness remain unfinished. Over time, they are huge and life controlling issues for us.

<Slide #8>1. FORGIVENESS IS NOT A COMPROMISE OF MORALITY.
When God chose to forgive us He didn’t confuse moral clarity with his grace and mercy. Forgiveness is not a violation of Gods mercy. My friends, forgiveness is not just ignoring or wishing away the offense of another. But rather the forgiver HAS to see the offense before they can see anything else. The forgiver has to feel the sting of what the other person did to them. Ignoring the offense helps no one and in a psychologists office they would call that denial.

So forgiveness is not a compromise of morality, or ignoring that a bad thing ever happened. But the definition of true forgiveness must be seen at the foot of the Cross of Christ. Jesus died, taking the punishment for our wrong choices, our wrong desires, our wrong choice of words to another person, and our intentional sins. Jesus had every right to defend himself on the cross because he did nothing wrong. But because forgiveness was and always will be a part of Gods plan for mankind, he spoke these words on the cross meant for you:

“Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing”

If forgiveness is part of Gods story, and if it is modeled for us through the cross of Christ. Then it had better be a part of OUR stories also if we are calling ourselves followers of Jesus. We as followers of Jesus need to be some of the best in the entire world of knowing our own forgiveness through the blood of Jesus and offering that forgiveness to others around us.

Every one of us needs to understand and come to terms with the issues of forgiveness, because forgiveness is part of Gods plan. Forgiveness is a sort of mystery that we are constantly trying to wrap our minds around.

And yet God so clearly lives in the attribute of forgiveness. So if one of Gods attributes, part of who he really is, is forgiveness. If God really does give forgiveness to us, none of us ever deserving it; then maybe it also should be a predominant attribute of the church today. And yet, often times us, the church, struggling to really accept the forgiveness of God in our own lives. And in turn we find it difficult and sometimes a process of years to forgive those who have hurt us. What if the church of God could be known for its forgiveness? What if people outside these wall really really knew that if they could just get in the doors of the church condemnation would ceases and forgiveness, true unearned, undeserved forgiveness could be theirs for the asking? Isn’t that what we want the world to see in us?

If we follow Jesus, we will learn to forgive. Because as followers of Jesus we are representatives of Him. If we are representatives of Jesus than we certainly will want to do what He does. Jesus forgives, it IS the essence of who Jesus is. So what is the correct definition of forgiveness so that we know that we are doing the right thing:

We can only look at the Cross of Christ for the true definition of forgiveness. Jesus willingly allowed himself to be nailed to a cross to take our punishment for our own wrong choices, our own wrong word, our sins against others. He died to take our punishment. And in the middle of all the bloody, chaos Jesus cried out

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing”

That word forgive, in the Greek means to RELEASE and that is the best definition we can have for forgiveness.

Now before we go and make it more complicated than it should, lets keep it simple for a moment.

TO FORGIVE MEANS TO CHOOSE SOMEONE WHOM YOU HAVE PUT IN A PRISON OF SORTS BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY HAVE DONE TO YOU. YOU’VE PRISONED THEM WITH YOUR BITTERNESS AND YOU'VE PRISONED THEM WITH YOUR RESENTMENTS; AND IN YOUR MOMENT OF FORGIVING THEM WHAT YOU ACTUALLY ARE DOING IS RELEASING THEM.

FORGIVENESS OR RELEASING SOMEONE ISN’T BELITTLING THE EVIL OR THE SIN OR THE WRONG DOING OF ANOTHER PERSON; ITS NOT TURNING A BLIND EYE, AS IF NOTHING EVER HAPPENED. FORGIVENESS SIMPLY MEANS THAT YOU CHOOSE TO RELEASE THAT PERSON FROM ANY PERSONAL OBLIGATION TO YOU. (even though that person will have to stand before God someday)

We can’t follow Jesus without forgiveness...so today if you find it hard to forgive yourself or others or even to accept the forgiveness of God you need to hear what the scriptures are saying to us all.

harmed. That’s important, because saying ‘no problem’ when there really is a problem doesn’t help anyone. It leads to injustice and denial, and neither of those things is forgiveness.

We need to forgive and remember.

Romans 5:8 –Christ died for us while we were still sinners. From today’s scripture, we’re invited to remember who’s the judge.

BEFORE anything else, UNDER every other truth, human beings stand on equal footing in relationship to God. Christ died for sinners – you, me, and the people who commit atrocities. THEY may forget that we are all humans standing in a forgiven relationship before God. WE may forget. But we don’t dare. Remembering that Christ is our judge – the judge to whom we are all accountable – is the next step to forgiveness.

When Ike was in his early 40s at the time, with his children in middle and high school, Ike’s dad committed suicide. Ike went into problem-solving mode with his brothers and sisters. The lawyer remarked on how little conflict there was as they settled the estate, which included quite a bit of

farmland and equipment. Of course, the suicide voided the life insurance, but there was a lot to do.

Ike had a double burden. One, he was the one who found his dad, a visual he said he would never be able to erase. Two, in the line at the funeral home, a friend of his from church said, “Well, I’m just so sorry Ike, because you will never see your dad again since he’s in hell.” Ike and all his family knew, of course, that there have been seasons when Christians believed that suicides went to hell, but wow, that comment made it seem inevitable.

Now, Ike couldn’t really reconcile with his dad – dad was out of reach. And he couldn’t deal with the pain of finding him or the fear of never seeing him again, so Ike shut down. He kept going to church, reading his Bible, but for a long time, he just felt numb, out of it, like there was a big thick wall between him and real life.

One day, sitting in worship, he heard the passage from the book of Romans read. As he did, his imagination took over. He saw himself standing in a huge crowd of people in this great hall. At the front was clearly where the judge sat. But next to Ike was his dad. As Ike looked at him, his father looked back with tears streaming down his cheeks. Mike looked around. He and his dad were both the same distance from the judge.

Ike came to with a start as the offering music began. What if it’s true? He asked himself. And then anger at his dad hit him with full force. Did that daydream he saw mean everything was fine? Because it wasn’t fine. All the loss came back. Not just the loss of his dad and what the future might have held, but the family had stopped gathering after his dad died. He’d lost a connection with a major chunk of his family. His kids had lost knowing their grandfather. Ike shut himself down further, this time from God. Who was God to forgive? Who was God to say that he and his dad belonged in the same room, each just as far from Jesus as the other?

Ike kept going to church for his wife’s sake, but somehow that idea that God had forgiven his dad bothered him and he found himself not worshiping, not singing, not really engaged.

Then one day, Ike was mowing the lawn, he imagined what he’d say to his dad if he ever had a chance to talk to him. Suddenly he was back in that same judgment hall. His dad was still next to him, but instead of looking at Ike, he was looking at the judge. When Ike followed his dad’s gaze, he found himself looking at Jesus, and Jesus was looking straight at him. As he looked back, Ike knew that Jesus knew it all. He knew about the pain Ike’s dad had caused, but he also saw all those holidays when Ike complained about how his dad’s death broke up their family. Ike saw that he could have chosen to pick up the phone and call his siblings, but he never did. He saw that Jesus knew the years his dad’s death deprived his grandchildren of, and also the times when Ike was so cut off from his own emotions that he neglected his family. He saw the years he lost with his dad, and he saw the years he lost when his wife begged him to get counseling, but he would not. He saw his own pain, and his dad’s pain.

Then Jesus reached out both hands to Ike and his dad, and Ike saw the wounds in his wrist, one drop of blood falling like a tear. Ike realized that he and his dad were in the same room because they were accountable to the same Judge.

Remember who’s the judge.

Forgive and remember. Remember Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Every child killed in Gaza and Israel, in Iraq and here, every child orphaned by poverty or the ebola virus or AIDS, sent desperately to the border has a face, a life, a soul. Every tyrant, terrorist and drug and war lord also does. When we remember we are sinners saved by the grace of God, when we see the world in that throne room with Jesus, we can’t help but treat other like human beings. We see their faces, and care about them. It is FORGETTING that prevents forgiveness, that causes violence, that leads to destruction. Forgetting that others are human, forgetting that there will be a day when we are all held accountable to the God who created us, forgetting that our own complicity in the culture of violence that killed Jesus keeps us from receiving the very gift we need most.

We are all on level ground before Jesus. He even showed us this is true. Remember what he told us to do when someone strikes our right cheek? Turn the other cheek, right? But Walter Wink interprets this in light of the culture Jesus lived in, where the right hand is the ‘clean hand’ and the left the unclean hand never used for anything but bathrooms. For me to strike you on the right cheek, I have to backhand you, and that is the way a master would strike a slave. Being backhanded meant that the one who hits you is better than you and you are lower. So if, struck by someone convinced you are their inferior, you turn the other cheek, they have no choice but to hit you with an open palm or a closed fist – both the way equals fought each other.

Turn the other cheek doesn’t mean say ‘it’s ok for you to hurt me,’ it communicates ‘we are equals, fight me if you must.’ We are equals in the eyes of God. And Christ, the Christ who died on the cross, the Christ who reached out to take the burdens from the weary ones, he is the judge.

In order to forgive, we must remember who the real judge is. Not the person who hurt us, and not us. Not the people we tried so hard to get on our side against the person who hurt us. Not the crowd or the culture. Christ is the judge. Remember.

But how is your memory? Mine is not great. Sometimes I go into a room and forget what I went in there for. Sometimes I lose my car keys or forget someone’s name. Does that happen to you? It happens to us all. God knows our memories are short, and even the best of us only has the memory of this lifetime. So he gives us a way to remember that goes back 4000 years.

He takes bread, and gives thanks to God and breaks it, asking us to remember that he takes our burdens and gives us his life. He gives thanks over the cup, and hands it to us, asking us to let the wine be a reminder of the blood he poured out so that we can have life.

Each time we do this, we remember that our only judge is the one who gave his life for us. But that is true of all people. Maybe, by taking the bread

and juice often enough, we can let Christ’s life become real in us, little by little giving up the burdens we carry and finally, in the end, travel lightly.