Monday, August 1, 2011

Forgiving As the Body of Christ

This is based upon true stories.

Tom could hardly see the long country road, as it was the middle of the night and the dust was kicking up in front of the car’s headlights. His wife had been taken suddenly ill during a vacation and he decided to drive her home. Their young daughter was asleep in back and had not been too disappointed about abruptly ending the vacation, as she had lots of plans with her girlfriends that summer.

The road ended with a sudden, violent impact on the passengers side which tossed and rolled them into the fields.

Tom groggily awoke in the hospital to the devastating news that a teenage boy (whose girlfriend had just broken up with him) had set out that black night on an unsuccessful 110 mile-an-hour suicide attempt. The boy would recover from the serious injuries he sustained, but both Tom’s wife and little girl had been killed.


Being out of a job for six months, debt was mounting for Patrick. His desperate prayers seemed miraculously answered when a dream job (he was way under-qualified for) opened up. Then as the months passed at this new job, it was dawning upon him that he was being set up. He had been hired to be the fall guy for the company’s fraud. He had to do some serious scrambling to keep from being thrown in jail.


We all experience humiliating and agonizing injustices in life. Even if not as dramatic as the stories above, we encounter small injustices daily in the forms of insults, being misrepresented, ignored or patronized. As Christians we are asked to do the impossible, the supernatural. We are asked to forgive the unforgivable.

The natural man is programed for justice. From infancy, we all have an innate requirement for wrongs to be righted. We simply cannot deal with a world where the perpetrator doesn’t get his just reward and the victim isn’t defended. That is good. Justice is right.

So when Christ tells us to turn the other cheek and forgive our enemies, He is not telling us that He is unjust and the bad guy wins. Jesus tells us to forgive because He claims all acts of retribution as His.

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. Romans 12: 19 (See also Hebrews 10: 30 and Deuteronomy 32: 35)

It is against all our instincts, our logic and our emotions to forgive premeditated acts of injustice. Everything inside us screams out in righteous pain to God that sin should not be allowed to go unpunished--punishment where WE can view it, now, so it doesn’t eat at us forever. Life doesn’t make sense when we must absorb the injustice.

And as unjust as it is; that is exactly what Christ calls His follower to do.

The Power of Sin

We don’t really take the time to analyze sin. There is no such thing as private sin. All sin sets in motion a chain reaction that continues like a wave, sometimes dying out in smaller and smaller ripples, but sometimes the actions of sin build and the ripples turn to waves and then to tsunamis.

As Christians we are asked to be like little Christs and stand up against the waves and absorb the impact of sin so that it cannot affect anyone else. We are asked, no commanded by God, to stand in the gap and allow the injustice to crash against us with all its force.

J.RR. Tolkien seemed to understand this as he wrote the scene in the Lord of the Rings where Gandalf the Grey, to protect his friends from the fiery dragon Balrog, ordered Frodo, Samwise and the rest, to cross the bridge. Gandalf drew the sword to allow the others safe passage and the demonic wrath fell upon him. Gandolf’s immortal declaration to the monstrous adversary, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” is exactly what we are called to do, even to the most seemingly trivial and daily transgressions.

When our spouse hurts us, instead of flinging the pain back in sarcasm or a biting remark or even quietly held resentment, we must absorb the pain through forgiveness. We actually bear the flaming arrow of the offense and allow it to burn us instead of passing it on to another. It is a gift of supreme self-sacrifice to take upon ourselves the effects of the wrongdoing and let it die there.

In today’s culture of rights, taking on the scalding effects of another’s sin, especially when we are the innocent victims, screams “injustice” and the searing unfairness of life. Mercy and forgiveness in the vast majority of cases seems to us as wrong, illegal, sinful. After all, we have rights!

The call by God to stand down against our fellow man and lift our sword against the real enemy, the supernatural dark forces that are trying to destroy our lives, our families, our communities and our nation is difficult. And to write "difficult" is the understatement of the century. It is impossible.

Yet, we are called as Christians to willingly take the impact and return love for hatred, and charity for those who spitefully use us.

Yes, it is impossible. But God does and will do the impossible in us as we lift up all the injustices to Him; as we become the conduit of mercy and pass on our pain to Christ. Our faith tells us that God will one day make all things right. We must then live that faith in our everyday lives and God will make us the heroes in many spiritual battles. For the battle Paul talks about in his letters is not allegorical, it is a real. Oh, if our eyes could see the forces of the demonic and angelic around us, we would not hesitate to allow our faith to work and work hard for the cause of Christ.

We are called to be Christ to our spouse, our parents, our children, our friends and our world. We are called to intercede, to connect heaven and earth with our very bodies and absorb the catastrophic injustices and humiliations and lift them upward as an offering of love to Christ. And through Christ all things are possible.

Power of Love

Tom’s reaction to hearing that the life of his wife and daughter had been killed by such an unthinking selfish act, made his body so violent towards the youth that he laid a plan to find out where the boy was, to sneak away from his hospital bed and murder the perpetrator. Vengeance, he felt, could not be left with the corrupt American justice system.

Then, the second powerful blow of that day. The doctor, in a compassionate whisper, related that the boy, lying a few doors down who had hit his car, was Tom’s son. Tom’s eldest child had stayed home from the family vacation because of his girlfriend.

Over the next few hours, Tom’s violent righteous anger and determination for justice turned inward and he suffered the agony of the situation in behalf of his son.

It was only through love of his son that Tom was able to forgive such a monstrous, horrifying act. He took the hit, the impact of the sin into his own heart, for love of his son.

You see, in the end, Christ knew that only love was powerful enough to forgive the unforgivable. It is only the miraculous power of love that can freely give mercy and pardon. That is why Christ told us to love our enemies.

Through a working faith, we are connected with a God who promises to make all things just and right in the end. And it is only through a faith-filled connection to God that the power of love can work its miracles.

Hang on for a little while, hang on and let faith, through love win out in your every day life. For Christ hung on for you. When you need the strength to absorb the impact of each sting and disappointment, look to the Cross, place upon Him your suffering and your offerings of forgiveness for others.

God is calling us to be the miracle of forgiving love.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Your masterpiece!