We believe in a Messiah that tells us to turn the other cheek but we live in a world that tells us to hit back harder on their cheek. Our society wants us to turn to revenge and retaliation. Make them pay for what they did to us. The problem is that even if we do seek revenge or strike back, the pain of what they did to us is still there. The emotional scars of what happened to us are still there. Even after vengeance, it’s not over, there is still lost we have to work through. So what if there was another way of dealing with those who have hurt us? It brings us to our big question for today: How can I forgive those who have hurt me? In many ways forgiveness is at the core of Christianity. If there was no forgiveness then none of us would be here nor would we be worthy enough to call ourselves followers of Jesus. It is one thing to receive forgiveness but it is another to give forgiveness. The disciples asked Jesus that question how many times should we forgive someone? This indicates that forgiveness has traditionally been at the center point of our religion.
Forgiveness is one of those topics that it is easy to talk about but hard to put into practice. We all can preach forgiveness and agree that forgiveness is essential to our relationship with God and others until we are hurt. When we or a love one is hurt we want revenge. We want the person or persons to pay. There is a huge difference between wanting or demanding justice and wanting revenge. Wanting justice is fine and normal but if we are honest we want more. We have an instinct for justice. That is who we are as humans and God promises justice. Without a system of consequences for wrongful acts then chaos and anarchy rules and peace and security evaporates. We live in a world where there are some messed up things and messed up people who mess with our minds, our security, and our safety which makes it very hard to forgive. Especially when there is physical and sexual abuse it multiplies and when children are abused it goes off the scale. Forgiveness does not mean the perpetrator should not have legal consequences, relationships boundaries and consequences, or letting people off the hook for their actions. Forgiveness is not letting any one get away with something. It is just the opposite. Forgiveness is the hardest thing to do as a Christian. Seriously, feeding people, serving people, clothing people, that is all easy compared to forgiving people. Anger and resentment feels right at the moment but eventually it eats away to you. We feel we reserve the right to be mad. True. But anger reveals a flaw in our understanding of what forgiveness is. It is not letting people off the hook but it is letting people know that their actions or inaction's resulted in pain and hurt. It is letting them know that what they did to you will no longer define who you are or hinder your love or trust for someone else. When it comes to forgiveness, we cannot do this by ourselves. We need help from God, from professionals and the power of the Holy Spirit. We need the encouragement of others. We need to fully understand that forgiveness cannot happen overnight. It is a long process with many stages. Join us for this last part of our sermon series as we lay out the steps and stages of forgiveness so we may all experience the peace in life we all deserve.
Peace, Love & Happiness: