Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Ugliness of Forgiveness

Forgiving isn't fair. It hurts, it's hard and leaves you vulnerable. Usually after I forgive, I feel like the loser, like the quitter, like the one who got the bad end of a deal. It's just not fair. Someone hurt ME, violated MY feelings, hurt MY body, MY mind, MY emotions, MY spirit. Why should I forgive? I have heard so many say that forgiveness sets you free, but I don't feel that way. It feels more like I traded in a thorn in the flesh for a rusty nail. I don't feel liberated or a sense of relief. On the contrary, I feel ensnared and a sense of fear (will they hurt me again now that I've forgiven them?) At least with my grudge I felt I had a sense of control. But God is clear, forgive or I won't forgive you.And forgiving ourselves is equally as hard.  But I believe in our human way of trying to make everything less painful or even advantageous we have tried to make forgiveness the same way. In other words, we try to get something out of it for OUR benefit. We try to get a good feeling out of something that wasnt made to make you feel good in the first place. When Jesus forgave his tormentors (us included), He was naked, drenched in blood, sweat and tears; hammered to a piece of wood. That ability to grant us forgiveness was the ugliest thing ever recorded by man. The innocent Son of God entered this earth bloody and crying and died the same way. He was tortured, stripped and nailed to a cross for all to see his shame and through that wretched body, because of his blood we are forgiven. Through the violent sacrifice of a human being we can now receive forgiveness. We are forgiven, but what about the forgiver? What did it cost Him? What do we expect it to cost us? How did it feel for Him? How do we expect it to feel for us? Forgiving isn't fair and neither was the cross. Forgiving hurts and so did the cross. We don't want to forgive, but neither did Jesus want to take up the cross that enabled us to receive that forgivenes. "It's not fair, it's going to hurt, theyre the ones that did Us wrong, they're the ones that hurt Us, and they will do it again." Can you hear the tempting thoughts circulating in Jesus' head that night in Gethsemane. For hours He prayed and asked a very human question: "Is there another way?" No. "Then not My will, but Yours." He did it because God said so. Jesus was the loser that Friday. He got the bad end of the deal. But Sunday came. Jesus forever broke the chains of death, but those same chains can encoil us slowly when we refuse to forgive a wrong done to us or others. They harm no other more than ourselves and seperate us from God. Is forgiving not fair? It usually is. Will I get hurt again? Probably. Am I going to feel like a loser? Oh yeah. Is forgiving going to hurt? Most likely,  but it also did for Jesus. And like Jesus, forgiving will make you feel naked, exposed and even vulnerable, but only in nakedness is God's covering needed the most. Only through the pain of a cross could we receive forgiveness. Only through the pain of forgiveness could we receive salvation. And only through forgiving others are we most like Jesus. There is no other way but to grit one's teeth and say "not my will, but Yours.

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