Forgiveness…An Unfolding Mystery

August 28th, 2017 by Dave Leave a reply »

Forgiveness…An Unfolding Mystery (From Richard Rohr)

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God. —Matthew 5:9

The Spirit within us creates an unrelenting desire toward forgiveness and reconciliation. The entire Gospel reveals the unfolding mystery of forgiveness; it is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the Gospel’s transformative message. The energy of being forgiven—in our unworthiness of it—first breaks us out of our merit-badge mentality. The ongoing experience of being forgiven (when we don’t even think we need it) is necessary to renew our flagging spirit and keep us in the infinite ocean of grace. Toward the end of life a universal forgiveness of everything for being what it is becomes the only way we can see and understand reality and finally live at peace.
Zechariah said that God would “give God’s people knowledge of salvation through forgiveness of sin” (Luke 1:77). Only when we experience undeserved love does this inward and outward flow begin to happen. Before that we are a dry, dead cistern. Before that, we are into “religion” perhaps, but not really any dynamic notion of God or even our self. Forgiveness given and forgiveness received are always the pure work of uncreated grace. Such unearned and undeserved forgiveness is necessary to break down the quid pro quo world that I call meritocracy.
Grace re-creates all things. Nothing new happens without forgiveness. We just keep repeating the same old patterns, illusions, and half-truths.
Sometimes grace does not come immediately, but like Job we “sit in the ashes scraping our sores” (Job 2:8). Sometimes neither the desire nor the decision to forgive is present. Then we must grieve and wait. We must sit in our poverty, perhaps even admitting our inability to forgive the offender. That is when we learn how to pray and how to “long and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).
True Spirit-led forgiveness always frees and heals at least one of the parties involved, and hopefully both. If it only preserves my moral high ground—as a magnanimous “Christian” person—I doubt if it is true forgiveness at all. It must also quicken and invite the hearts of others, especially the offender. True forgiveness does not leave the offender feeling small and judged, but liberated and loved.
At the New Jerusalem Community in Cincinnati I had “70 x 7” painted over the main doorway. New mail carriers thought it was the address! It was our address, in a way. It is the distinctive hallmark of a people liberated by Christ. Community is not where forgiveness is unnecessary or unneeded. It is where forgiveness is very free to happen. And if it doesn’t happen—on a daily basis—there will be no community; without forgiveness the logic of victimhood and perpetrator rules instead of the illogic of love.

Gateway to Silence:
Create in me a clean heart. —Psalm 51:12


The Purpose of Prayer (From Oswald Chambers)

…one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” —Luke 11:1

Prayer is not a normal part of the life of the natural man. We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.

“Ask, and you will receive…” (John 16:24). We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, “…unless you…become as little children…” (Matthew 18:3). Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is that no one will ever do this until he is at his wits’ end. When a person is at his wits’ end, it no longer seems to be a cowardly thing to pray; in fact, it is the only way he can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems— the very things that have brought you to your wits’ end. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.

To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.


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