Showing posts with label forgiveness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label forgiveness. Show all posts

29 April 2015

Love and forgive, or forgive and love?

It's impossible to love someone you have not yet forgiven. Or, to put it another way, if you truly love a person you will certainly forgive them. So we cannot say which comes first, love or forgiveness. We must conclude that they arrive together, as a package. Love and forgiveness cannot be separated, if you have one you also have the other.

Reaching to touch
Reaching to touch
It's the same with the Father's love towards us. If he says he loves us - and he does - then he also forgives us. And if he forgives us, we know that we are already loved by him.

But beware, for hatred and condemnation (or judgement) go together in just the same way. Do not hate/condemn anyone.

We can't take any of this for granted. Remember that love and forgiveness must be received as well as given, and receiving requires repentance as the first step. We should be constantly grateful to Papa for his love/forgiveness and for sending his Son into this broken world to demonstrate that love/forgiveness. And we should also be grateful to our friends who show us the love/forgiveness we so badly need from them, a pale image of the love/forgiveness of the Father.

So praise you Father for everything you have done for us, praise you Jesus for coming into our world, and praise you Holy Spirit for remaining in us as a deposit of what we will inherit.

And thank you to all my friends (who are many) for everything you have done for me. Thank you for reminding me by your gifts of love, of that greater, heavenly gift of love that we all share.

And remember that this is also the root of mission. How can I receive this great gift without wanting to share it with everyone who will listen? It's just a matter of reaching out to people in ways that will touch them and cause them to search for spiritual truth and discover that Jesus loves/forgives them too.

02 February 2015

Loving more fully and widely (Repost)

Here's another reposted article, this time from 26th October 2012. It was originally part of a chain blog. I've removed the material related to that, but you can read the original if you want to see it.

British currency
One another - Today we're going to see how much we can draw from a single occurrence of the phrase 'one another'. Romans 13:8 is the particular example we'll consider.

Here it is in context, verse eight is in italics...

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.

Wider context - There's a wider context too, that we need to bear in mind. Paul first writes about civil government, making it clear that goverments are there because the One who is Authority puts them there. They have a function and a purpose, we must submit to them.

Then come the verses above.

And finally Paul writes that time is short, we need to act now while we still can. Jesus is returning - soon! We need to be found ready and obedient and already covered by him. Romans 13 is relevant in its entirety. We should read this chapter often and let it sink deep into our hearts and minds!

Three statements - But in verse eight, Paul makes three statements.

  • Don't let any debt remain.
  • Continue to love one another
  • This fulfils the Law

What does he mean? He is not simply saying that I should pay off any debts I owe. He is saying that I should allow no debt to stand. He is saying I should pay my own debts but I should also, if necessary, pay yours. The important thing about debt is that it is paid, the effect is the same no matter who pays.

Jesus paid my debt so if I want to be like him I will pay yours. And Paul is not writing merely about money, he has just explicitly used the words respect and honour as well. These things apply to one another as much as (or more than) they do to governments.

There are to be no debts amongst us, not only because we pay them off but because we forgive them. When I lack the means to pay I become dependent on your willingness to forgive. Jesus is our example in this. He is the ultimate debt payer and forgiver. We are called to be like him in our dealings with one another.

Will I pay my monetary debt to you? Will I forgive your debt of money to me? But also (and often harder) will I pay the respect and honour I owe to you? And will I forgive you if you disrespect and dishonour me? This is the nitty-gritty of not allowing any debt to remain.

If I continue to love you I will indeed pay and forgive in all situations where debt might remain. Love will cause me, compel me to cover every kind of debt. If not, do I have love at all?

The debt that remains - And it goes further yet! Paul writes that there is one debt that should stand, the 'continuing debt to love one another'.  Love is not just for today but also for tomorrow and for tomorrow's tomorrow. I owe you love and that is a debt I cannot pay off. Love goes forward without ceasing. 'Faith, hope and love remain', writes Paul, 'And the greatest of these is love'. Love remains, even in the kingdom of heaven, especially in the kingdom of heaven.

So, just as love is the fulfilment of Torah, so love is the fulfilment of civil law and indeed every kind of law. If I truly love I will not be able to commit any sin at all. The fact that sin remains is just a clear sign that love is not yet complete in me.

Let's go forward in our lives understanding that love remains and is greater than anything else. And let's remember who 'one another' means. It's not limited to the church.

Jesus made it pretty inclusive. What begins with brothers and sisters becomes all encompassing. Love the Father, love one another, love your neighbour, love your enemy. My love is to extend out and become fully inclusive, not in any way for club members only. 'One another' is just a starting point, the nursery slopes of loving.

    30 January 2014

    The Railway Man

    Good films tell good stories; 'The Railway Man' is a great film. This is the true story of Eric Lomax, a prisoner of war under the Japanese in Thailand, the brutality of building the Burma Railway, his later marriage and subsequent friendship with one of his Japanese captors.

    The Railway Man
    The Railway Man
    Donna and I went to see 'The Railway Man' last night. What a film!

    It stars Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman and is a marvellous story of redemption, forgiveness, freedom and life. It's based on real events and real people.

    Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) is an ex-soldier. He had served in the British Army in Singapore at the time when the Japanese captured the city. As Japanese prisoners, he and his fellow servicemen suffered most terribly while constructing the railway through Thailand and Burma (the railway made famous by the film 'Bridge over the River Kwai').

    Memories and freedom - Lomax was always fascinated by railways but couldn't forget or deal with his secret memories of wartime captivity and torture. He met Patti (Nicole Kidman) on a train journey in northern Britain and they fell in love. Later they married, but Eric's past haunted him until a friend discovered that Takashi Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada), the Japanese interpreter who had assisted in his interrogation, was alive and working as a museum guide on the railway in Thailand.

    Eric travels to Thailand and arrives unannounced; the two men meet and a tense exchange takes place. Through this experience Eric is able to move forward in his life. Later, when a letter arrives from Hiroyuki, Eric decides he must go to Thailand again, this time with Patti.

    Some parallels - 'The Railway Man' is a great film and a wonderful story. Like all good stories it contains elements of human life at its most gripping and poignent [Tweet it!]. Wisdom, anguish, love, grace and forgiveness are all clearly portrayed.

    Because of this, the story has many parallels with the greatest story of them all - the story of a powerful father who sends his one and only son to bring grace, love and forgiveness to a lost and desperate people so that darkness may be replaced by light and death may be overcome by life. These themes are eternal and significant.

    Questions:

    • Have you seen 'The Railway Man'? What did you think?
    • What other films would you recommend? Do any of them provoke thoughts on deep human experiences and eternal truths?
    • All stories are worth hearing, all stories contain truth. Is this statement true or false?

    See also:

    24 September 2012

    Seven times?

    How many times must I forgive a person who wrongs me? We take a look at forgiveness in terms of Cain's murder of Abel, Israel's history, and the teaching of Jesus. There's a pattern, a thread running through all these themes. We see how forgiveness is protective and comes without limits.

    Forgiveness at its source
    When Yahshua told Peter he should forgive not just seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22), he was clearly making the point that forgiveness is something that should be seen as having no limits.

    But this is not the first time these words are found in the Bible.

    All wise and all knowing as he is, Jesus would have been very familiar with the earlier texts in Genesis 4:15 and Genesis 4:24. He intended Peter (and us) to get the deeper message. So what is that deeper message?

    Cain - Read Genesis 4:8-26. In verse 8 we see how Cain attacks his brother and kills him. Which is the greater sin, attacking my brother or killing him? Most of us would agree that murder is worse than injury. But is it? We'll come back to that.

    Cain's punishment is more than he can bear, he understands he is to become an exile, hidden from Yahweh's presence, and a restless wanderer at risk of death. Even so, Yahweh protects him by placing a mark upon him and decreeing seven-fold vengeance on anyone who dares kill him.

    Cain goes into exile but raises a family and builds a city. His descendent Lamech also commits a murder and claims seventy times seven-fold vengeance. Notice in verse 26 that it was after these events that people began to call on the name of Yahweh.

    Israel - We can see much in the history of Israel that mirrors these events. The life of Cain is, in a sense, prophetic. Joseph's brothers were jealous, they sold him to Egyptian traders and told their father that he was dead. For all they knew it was true.

    The nation passed into slavery in Egypt, hidden from Yahweh's presence. When they were released from Egypt they became restless wanderers at risk of death, but they carried the mark of circumsision and were protected from destruction at the hands of the Egyptians and other nations.

    They began to call on the name of Yahweh and worshipped him - first in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple.

    Forgiveness - Let's move on again, to the conversation between Peter and Yahshua. Peter wanted to offer the protection of Cain to his brother, but Jesus requires the protection of Lamech. What is really going on here?

    Peter's forgiveness is just like the forgiveness of the Father. It is the thing that protects from vengeance. Peter either forgives his brother, the fault is forgotten and the relationship restored, or he does not. And he needs to treat every repeat offence as if it's the first. And like Peter, we too are called to forgive without limit, without counting. It's what the Father and the Son have done for us, forgiven without limit. How can I do less for my brother, my sister?

    It is the word of the Father that he will demand life from anyone who harms us. We have only one enemy - the evil one - and he cannot stand against our Father.

    The pattern set by Cain and Lamech (pre covenant) comes down via Israel (Old Covenant) to the church (New Covenant). Cain was offered a mark and a seven-fold protection. Lamech claimed a seventy times seven-fold protection.

    Israel (before the Messiah) was given the mark of circumcision and protection through repeated but temporary ritual sacrifice.

    In Yahshua we (with Israel) are given the mark of the Holy Spirit and protection through ongoing and indefinite forgiveness. But like Lamech we must claim that protection. In our case we can only do so by believing and confessing Jesus as Lord.

    Oh yes... Murder or injury, which is worse? Jesus pretty much equated anger and murder - don't murder, don't injure, and don't even be angry. Anger is the source of murder in my heart just as it was for Cain.

    Read Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3 and 1 Corinthians 6 for more on this topic.

    Did you know? There's a 'Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance' that was formed to promote forgiveness in all situations. The organisation declares that 'Forgiveness is the greatest healer of them all' and 'Without forgiveness there is no future'. They have some great stories about forgiveness.

    I'd say that Jesus is the greatest healer and without him there is no future. But Jesus came to open the way to forgiveness, healing, and eternity.

    06 October 2011

    THOUGHT - You or Me?

    Look at any area of human endeavour and you will find two extremes of outlook, those that focus on self and those that focus on others. Between the two is a broad spectrum of attitude and behaviour reflected in society at large and affecting us all for good or ill.

    ForgivenessMany of the issues we face in life can be viewed in this way. Take career for example. Should I do my best in exams and training, work hard, and hope for the best? Should I push others out of my way by fair means and foul? Should I defer to others and settle for a lesser role?

    Yahshua (Jesus) was always clear - love the Almighty, love one another, love your enemy. Simple. But note that those three calls to love leave out only one single person in the entire universe - self. Yahshua calls us to love everyone but ourselves. In other words he calls us to unselfish love. And thinking about that, isn't love always unselfish? Could love possibly be any other way? I don't think so!

    Sometimes people say, 'We need to love ourselves before we can really love one another'. There's an element of truth in that but only if we understand the implication that we need to be gentle and patient with ourselves. Perhaps it's more correct to say that we need to recognise our failings and forgive ourselves.

    Forgiveness is always liberating, always beneficial, always brings out the best in people. That is why we do well to forgive ourselves and even better to forgive those around us. Since Christ is always ready to forgive, so should I be. Forgiveness redeems what was lost, in ourselves, in others, and in eternity. And the motive and power that drive forgiveness are found in love.

    With that in mind, do you have any comments on the chart above? (Click it for a larger version.) If someone has something against you, how might you improve the chances of reconciliation?

    Wherever and whenever forgiveness is offered we should receive it with grateful and thankful hearts. It is one of the greatest gifts we can offer others.

    Yahshua said that providing the opportunity for others to forgive transcends sacrifice. (Matthew 5:22-24). Perhaps we should spend less time celebrating the fact that we are forgiven, and more time looking for opportunities to forgive one another. If we are truly driven by love that is exactly what we will do.

    All honour and glory and praise to the King who sets us such an example!

    02 May 2011

    RESPONSE: The death of Osama bin Laden

    We live in a violent world. Today's news that United States forces have killed Osama bin Laden in a reinforced hideout in Pakistan just emphasises that. What are we to make of it?

    Osama bin LadenViolence seems to be everywhere. A civil war is under way in Libya, pirates are active off the Somali coast, in Iran retribution is quick and severe for those who dare to oppose the authorities, the battle continues in Afghanistan and Iraq is racked by shootings and bombings. Closer to home trouble is stirring again in Northern Ireland and in Bristol there have been clashes between protesters and police over (of all things) the opening of a small, local Tesco shop.

    Let's face it, there's nothing new about violence, it's as old as the human race. But it certainly hasn't gone away!

    The latest news about Osama bin Laden's death is astonishing and raises many questions. You can read some of the background in an article by the BBC's Mark Mardell. No doubt more detail will emerge over the coming days and weeks. There is also likely to be strong reaction from Pakistan and perhaps from Russia and China too.

    The principles - But what about the principles involved? For those with no faith it just comes down to a matter of morality and personal opinion. Is it reasonable to kill someone who has done bad things? Is it acceptable to mount a raid into another country, even if the purpose seems noble? Everyone will have opinions on these matters and we will not always agree.

    Many religions teach that violence is wrong or that it is justifiable only in certain circumstances.

    Love and forgive - But what for those who follow Jesus? Three things, I think.

    First, it's clear that we are to love the Father. We are to be like him, pouring out love on one another and even on our enemies. Yahshua told Peter that those who choose to live by the sword will die by the sword. It is surely better for us to die by love than to die by the sword. As we judge, so will we be judged. 'Be like your Father in heaven', is not a suggestion - it's a command. But be warned, loving may cause us to die. If we truly love we will certainly die to self. But we may also die physically in situations where violence might have 'saved' us. It's better to be saved by grace than to be 'saved' by violent action.

    And secondly, we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. If someone murders my wife or my child I am to forgive them. That's hard, isn't it? We are not called to seek revenge or punishment. We are not even called to seek justice. We are called to forgive.

    Forgiving a wrong often seems like excusing evil. In fact forgiving and loving our enemies pours fire upon them. Forgiving is harder than lashing out with the tongue or with the fist or a firearm. Grace and patience lead us to love and forgive. Anger leads us into sin.

    The actions of others - And the third point is this. Not only are we to forgive our enemy, we are not to judge others who make different choices.

    So what about Osama's death? It's not for me to say. All I can say is that it would have been entirely wrong for me to kill him, but others must decide for themselves. My Father gave us freedom of will, freedom to choose. He expects me to extend the same freedom to others. I may not judge, I may only love and forgive.

    30 September 2010

    Eaton Ford - At sea in a storm

    Jim is away on holiday but Sean and I planned to travel to The Bull in Watton at Stone to meet David. Due to unforseen circumstances David had to call the meeting off at short notice, so eventually it was just me and Sean and Jesus at my place. I include the Lord in the list because he really was unmistakably meeting with us this evening.

    A storm on the coast of Israel, near CarmelAfter our usual start of coffee and a chat we began to focus on Yahshua. Quite soon, Sean shared a picture of a storm at sea. Some friends we know are in a storm like this, driving headlong into it. But Yahshua can calm the storm - he's done that sort of thing before! Our friends are moving into the storm but beyond that, everything is calm.

    This reminded me of the storm on Galilee and how Yahshua had actually walked past his followers in the boat. They were battling a strong headwind and they were just terrified when they saw a figure walking on the water. But he told them, 'It's me, don't be afraid!' And then they called out to him and Peter began to walk on the water too. But it was essential that they communicated with him.

    We need to communicate with him too. Reading the passage in Matthew 14 later I noticed that when Yahshua stepped into the boat the wind immediately died down. How we need him in our boat when a storm blows up! Something else that seems significant is that when the storm took place they were in the dark - it was the middle of the night and they'd been battling the headwind for a long time.

    Sean remembered that Yahweh once said, 'I have plans to prosper you'. He was speaking through Jeremiah to the exiled people of Israel (Jeremiah 29:11-14). If the Almighty did this for them, won't he also do as much for us?

    Sean thought that these truths are there to point us to him and give him an opportunity to show us his miraculous ability. For example, he is able to change our hearts to love him just a little more - we don't need to be able to do it, even when we can't - he can.

    I imagined one of our friends having a conversation with the people who have mistreated him. He was saying, 'I forgive you. I forgive you for believing the lies you were told about me. I forgive you for not believing what I told you.' And I became aware that the pavement (or patio) was flooded. It was only an inch or two deep and the water was stained pink with blood. The details were very clear but I could only see the stonework and brickwork - no people or plants or anything else. The ground in front of me was covered with large paving slabs and a red brick wall rose from the edge of the paving. The bricks were old and crumbly. I have no idea what this means.

    21 June 2006

    Eaton Ford - Dragonfly and pot

    < 13th June 2006 | Index | 28th June 2006 >

    We heard about the Bromsgrove meeting, some family news, life after death, a broken pot, and a geyser.

    A dragonflyChris shared some details of the previous weekend's conference at Bromsgrove, and especially Andy White's little cards which he gives out to people when he buys them coffee or pays their parking fee. These form a point of contact, they break the British reserve and allow people to get in touch with Andy later if they want to. What a wonderful idea!

    Rachael shared some exciting news from her son Tom. He'd dreamed that he was in heaven and was greatly struck by the bright light, great joy, and a sense of purity. He'd texted the details to Rachael and then later texted her again to ask how he should go about finding forgiveness. This is just amazing! We prayed for Tom, something is clearly happening in his life!

    Di wondered if people who've died can speak to us in our dreams. Chris was sure they could not, but that there are reasons why we might think that they do. In the end this question was left open, although we noted that the Bible strongly opposes deliberate attempts to 'contact' the dead.

    Pottery bowlJohn shared a delightful illustration of the principal of our present earthly lives and future heavenly ones, told to him long ago but never forgotten. Dragonfly nymphs live under water until they pupate and finally emerge, climb a reed or stem, wait for their wings to expand and dry, and then fly off as graceful adult dragonflies.

    The story involves two dragonfly nymphs who wonder where fully grown nymphs go. They made a pact, whichever of them matured first would come back and get a message to the other one explaining what happened, where they went, and what it was like.

    Time passed until one of the nymphs was mature and nature took its course. The nymph pupated and re-emerged as an adult dragonfly. Flying above the water he was able to see his old friend below, but realised there was no way he could get a message back to the old world below the water. And his old friend below didn't even seem to be aware of him flying by above the water.

    Chris had a picture of a broken pot and said that there are two ways of mending it. The way we would try is to find the right kind of adhesive (does it need to be waterproof, withstand heat, etc), buy the adhesive and then glue the pieces back together. But in the vision the pot was not just glued back together, it was actually made new, it was turned back into an unbroken pot. Like the pot, we were broken people, but have not just been mended, we have been made totally new.

    Rachael saw a picture too, a huge, hot geyser with the water falling down; so large that droplets were landing as far as hundreds of miles away, and falling onto people and making them wet. She also saw a spiritual 'earthquake' in which a mighty slab of brilliant light collided with a slab of darkness and overcame it. There were loud and continuing earthquakes during the collision.

    < 13th June 2006 | Index | 28th June 2006 >

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