Monday, August 8, 2011

Forgiving like Jesus

Today in our Monday morning men's Bible study we read the passage from Luke (23:32-38) where Jesus is crucified. Verse 34 jumped out at me. "And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'"

It struck me. How often do we get upset with non-Christians when they wrong us? We feel indignant, wronged, slighted and we become upset and unforgiving. Why? Should we really expect the world that does not know Jesus to behave like they do know him? All too often we miss an opportunity to act like Jesus by forgiving. We are given opportunities to show the love, grace and mercy of Jesus and all to often we fail (maybe I am just speaking about myself).

I'm not saying we should let the non-Christian world walk all over us (though there could be a possible argument in favor of this). There are cultural rules and etiquette that is expected of any person in a given society that need to be observed and followed. So seeking justice is not beyond the Christian. It really comes down to attitude though. Is the seeking of justice a disguise for revenge? Then we definitely are not acting like Jesus.  One can seek justice and still have a forgiving heart and show grace and mercy.

I am reminded of a story I heard a long time ago. I believe it to be true. A couple's teenage son was murdered by another teenager. The couple sought justice as expected. What was not expected was that when it came time for sentencing of the young murder the couple stepped forward and told the court that they would like this young man to come and live with them. They saw a young man acting on the influence of no love in his life and figured that the best way to help him overcome this was for him to experience the love they had for their deceased son.

That is a powerful story that illustrates the kind of forgiveness we should have for the non-Christian who offends. They may know better from a cultural perspective, but they don't know better from the Christian perspective. Remember, we are called to be the example of Jesus's love to the world. God has, to a certain extent, given us creative licensing to show this love. Are you looking at others through the eyes of Jesus? Are you forgiving others like Jesus?

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