Friday, March 23, 2007

Green Beer

The latest hubub at church has to do with reflections prior to the Lord’s Supper. Last Sunday, the speaker used an illustration of St. Patrick and how the attention paid to him has shifted over the centuries from his accomplishments in the Kingdom of God to green beer, rivers, and clothing. The speaker’s thrust was that we humans often forget the point of our faith and the purpose of our God in coming to the earth. Just as St. Patrick’s memory has shifted from hard and self-less evangelistic work to beer parties on the local college campus, we often lose track of the point of our calling and our God’s death for us. We are too often distracted by life, by work, by ourselves, that we forget who we were made and called to be. The Supper is not just a remembrance, but in that remembering, a rededication and a proclamation of faith. A faith that is supposed to lead to our very transformation into different people, with different values and goals. The importance is not in how we do it, but rather what it does to us.

All too often we let the green beer get in the way of living for God. It’s important to remember that, especially, when we gather to communally remember His life for us.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Forgiveness

The topic on the radio talk show’s nine o’clock hour was forgiveness. The host related a story of a lady who said that she had forgiven the people who had killed one of her daughters and severely wounded another. Her daughters were twin twelve year olds, shot by a drive-by shooter last week. The host of the show didn’t know whether or not he could forgive someone so quickly if they had killed his daughter.

As you can imagine, there were phone calls galore, ranging across the spectrum of possible responses. There were those who said they would forgive someone after they had been punished, and there were those who said that the only one who can forgive is the victim and since one of them is dead, that’s not possible. Still others said they’d forgive the shooters only after “taking care of them.”

Others seemed more willing to forgive. A couple folks called in to say that they would forgive the shooters because that’s what their faith said they were supposed to do, and one caller said if Jesus could forgive people while on the cross, he supposed he could follow that example.

I don’t know where you are on this question, but it seems to me that quite a few of the callers missed the point entirely, and others, while closer to the ideal, still didn’t seem to grasp the concept of Christian forgiveness. It seems to me that forgiveness is not something we do, but rather something we are. Christian forgiveness isn’t something we wonder whether we should extend to various people, but an attitude, a readiness to forgive all comers because forgiveness is one of our characteristics. It is in our makeup. We should have a hard time not forgiving others, rather than a hard time deciding whether we will.

One caller said that forgiveness isn’t about the other person, but about me. If we don’t forgive, we harbor bitterness, hurt, sadness, anger, and in many cases depression. If we forgive, we free ourselves of the limiting and burdening weight that hanging on to hurt produces. I think that caller is close too, but not close enough. I think forgiveness is about the other person; it is about forgiving someone else.

While we may benefit from forgiving someone, we also free them. We lighten our load, but we also extend grace to them. Our God is an other-centered God not because He gets something from forgiving us, but because He cares for us. If we are like Him, we extend grace and forgiveness to others because they need it.

One of the callers essentially said “an eye for an eye, and I won’t rest until I get it.” Has it not dawned on us that this mentality is one of the causative factors in the Bosnian genocide, the conflict in Palestine, and the killing in Darfur? No, an eye for an eye is not the answer and that view is a dangerous one. It epitomizes the very opposite of forgiveness and grace toward others, and scars society for centuries.

Forgiveness is who we are. It is not something we do.

Welcome and legal mumbojumbo

Welcome to my corner of cyberspace! Make yourself at home and enjoy a few minutes of reading. Everything here (text and pictures), unless otherwise indicated, is original and enjoys copyright protection. For re-use information, please contact me directly.

Information provided here is simply the creation of the author and is not intended as life advice, counseling, or therapy for anyone else. The use of any information found on this site is entirely at the discretion of the reader as they see fit for themselves. The author makes no claims to any particular expertise, experience, or training appropriate to justify basing any life, career, or any other type of decision on any of it.