September 01, 2009
Jesus Urges Us To Forgive
We live in a dark, dangerous, selfish world. None of us really know what we might have to face during any given day. So what should we do when bad things happen to us? Or, more to the point of this post, what should we do when someone (or several someones) are the reason for bad things happening to us?
This is a difficult post for me because I have experienced some really bad things in my life. Really bad. And they happened because of people who purposely wanted to hurt me. And I'm certain many, if not all, of you reading this have also experienced some bad things for the same reason. Know that I am very sorry you had to go through that pain.
The reason I love Christianity is because I love Jesus Christ and I love what he teaches. And one of the greatest points he teaches is forgiveness. It is not an easy topic and it is difficult to swallow when you're in the throes of suffering. But what I have found is that whenever I follow Jesus I come out on the other side happier, more fulfilled, and an all-around better person for doing so.
Jesus says in Luke 6:27-33:
 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.  Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.
 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that."
The world says "Love your friends." Why? Because friends help us. Loving our friends is just natural. But it's not natural to love an enemy, someone whose made it a goal to hurt, disgrace, and destroy us.
"If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic" (Luke 6:29)
Okay, I'll be honest here. This verse had ruffled my feathers for many years. What was Jesus saying by that? Should Christians be doormats? Should we just accept abuse and undue punishment? NO and NO! The point is that we shouldn't let our natural, human reaction take over when someone hurts us. What reaction? The one where we want to get even. To get the advantage or the last word. To just want to hurt the other person(s).
So what should we do? Love. Why must we love our enemies? Because anger, bitterness, and hatred don't impact our enemies as much as they impact ourselves. We make the pain worse by holding on to it. And in a very real sense our enemies hurt us even more when we refuse to forgive and leave things in the past. Forgiveness heals. It doesn't mean you will forget what happened or even that your enemies will ever feel bad for what happened. But it will help you.
Jesus teaches that we should love others, especially those that hurt us. But that's not only difficult to do, its downright impossible. Impossible! Why would Jesus ask us to do something we can't possibly do? Because He wants us to rely on His strength and wisdom to do it. When we are weak we realize our need for God the most. And its when we turn to Christ for help that we are given His strength to do what would ordinarily be impossible for us to do!
How does that happen? Through love. But not just any love... Agapao love. Agapao is the verb form of the greek word " agape" and it means "sacrificial or divine love." This is the kind of love Jesus displayed for all of us when He died on the cross. All we have to do is believe it and ask Him to show us how to live it in our own lives. This is what being a true Christian is all about. And it isn't easy, and many times it isn't fun but Jesus promises to be with us.
Hebrews 13:5 " I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
And before you think it just isn't possible for you to love your enemies, think again. Jesus changes lives and the following are two real-life stories, which gained international attention, of people trusting Jesus to do the impossible.
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that." (Luke 6:32-33)