>Its an overcast morning here in Scottsdale. I went over to the Kierland Starbucks with the hopes of finding a spot to sit down and write, but the place was packed. The line was out the door. So here I am in my office writing about anger and forgiveness.
I’m angry right now… and I can’t shake it. I’m not usually one to play the “victim” card… if anything can be said about me its that I own up to my own crap and I’ll go toe to toe with anyone who says otherwise…but this time its hard to not see the situation as something that was done to me … against me. And the hard part is I know I should forgive, I know I ought to forgive, but the reality is that I do not will it. Its not right, but sometimes I see my anger as my solace and justification.
Then I think about those Amish families who went to the funeral of the gunman who killed their children to pray for/with the family of the gunman.
And the couple who adopted the kid who raped and killed their little girl.
And the Egyptian Christians surrounding the Muslim’s and praying/protecting them in the news.
And the Nazarene who stretched himself out on a cross and cried out “father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
And the Bible passage that talks about how the extent to which we forgive others is the extent to which we are walking the reality of God’s forgiveness.
And the class I’m teaching this weekend, about the four things that Jesus accomplished on the cross…
When he was crucified, God’s wrath was propitiated. God was angry at us because of our sin, but he provided Jesus as the atoning sacrifice and placed his wrath upon him… the “chastisement that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Jesus was the sacrificial lamb of God who “takes away the sins of the world.”
When he was crucified, we were redeemed from sin. In the Bible “redemption” is a word that is used for the price paid for the release of prisoners. God paid the price of Jesus’ blood to buy us back from slavery and addiction and darkness. He purchased us with the high cost of his only Son. Even knowing that there would be people that openly rejected that redemption, he did it anyway.
When he was crucified, our relationship with God was reconciled. Before, we were enemies of God but Jesus on the cross has broken the walls of hostility and provided a way for us to have access to the Father. We can now ‘approach the throne of grace with confidence’ because we have a great ‘High Priest’ who has gone through the heavens. We can now have a relationship with God to whom we were once estranged.
When Jesus was crucified, we were justified. Standing in the courthouse of heaven before the Righteous Judge himself, who had every reason to condemn us, has declared us “not guilty” through the blood of Jesus. Our condemnation is taken away. Our guilt is taken away. There is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The verdict is in. It is finished. I stand innocent, washed of my past stains, and declared to be righteous through the Cross.
That’s the good news that I try to carry to people… to students.
But I’m still angry at this person.
If I really believed these things I so passionately preach, shouldn’t it be easy to forgive? Shouldn’t it be a simple step of gratitude, knowing that “he who has been forgiven much, loves much”?
Its not easy. But I’m comforted by the fact that I have a Savior who knows what its like to feel betrayed, to be spat upon, to be misunderstood, lonely, abandoned, frustrated, and wounded. He knows what its like to get cheated upon by the people that he loves, every single day. He knows what its like to have a heart that breaks for people who won’t listen, won’t apologize, won’t acknowledge their rebellion.
And what does he choose to do with all that? For some supernatural reason, I don’t know why, He still chooses to forgive, and not just lip-service forgive, but stretch-myself-out-on-a-cross forgive.
These realities cause me to fight within myself to forgive. I’m unsure if I’ll succeed, but without these realities, I wouldn’t even be fighting…I’d be crucifying all sorts of people within me. There is a greater power at work who paid a high price for me and He is waging war against the impostor in me, whose compulsion is to wound, to cripple, to hate, to emotionally murder. And there is a haunting and powerful instinct that that Greater Power is Jesus Himself, who knows…who understands…and who in the end will ultimately be victorious.
What about you? Have you ever had to forgive someone? What helps you to forgive?