Have you ever read or heard something that really made you think, and then in the days that followed that same thing continued to come up in every day life? Recently I heard a sermon on forgiveness. The speaker wasn't very spectacular and I wasn't wild about his three point talk on why we should forgive, but it has forced me to really contemplate the idea of forgiveness.
In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus is asked how many times we should forgive someone who has wronged us, his response is seventy times seven and then proceeds to share a parable of forgiveness with his disciples. I don't believe the actual number is important, for instance had Peter said nine times Christ probably would've responded with ninety times nine, but what is essential is the idea of simply offering forgiveness regardless of the wrong that is committed against you.
So I hear this sermon and I'm thinking to myself, "What if we really apply this idea of forgiveness to our lives, how would that change things?" I'm not just talking about forgiving the person that cuts you off in traffic or that person at work or church who just really pisses you off, but forgiving terrorists, those who physically harm us, those people who are determined to try and make your life miserable. Is this even imaginable?
I have a brother who, along with his wife, rejoice in causing disharmony and drama within our family. This past March our father passed and my brother and his wife did not even attend the funeral, and we were certain when it would come time to act out the will there would be problems. Sure enough we are in the process of closing on my dad's house and these two are doing everything in their power to cause as many delays as possible. It is extremely frustrating and with each day the closing is delayed my anger grows and my thoughts towards these two become more violent.
Then I hear this sermon and in the days that followed as I'm contemplating how revolutionary true and complete forgiveness would be, my anger with my brother reaches it's peak. If I truly believe these thoughts about forgiveness I must forgive my brother. I can't continue to talk about love and forgiveness and ride around town with my "Love Wins" bumper sticker on my car if I am unwilling to live it out, regardless of how hard it may seem.
I must allow this theology to alter my reality.