Forgiving from the heart

Luke 6:26-38; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13; 1 Jon. 4:7-12

According to a research by Baylor University 85-90% of Americans believe in God, however they do not agree on what God is like or what God wants for the world. That finding is somehow startling given that we have Bibles in our hands and the Holy Spirit to direct us and to enable us to know and do the will of God. But to cut to the chase, John 1:18 sates clearly that Jesus came to make God known.

In Luke 6:12 Jesus spent the whole night in prayer before naming 12 of his disciples apostles. As he began his ministry with incredible power that drew people from many regions, he laid out the agenda of the kingdom he was inaugurating. I believe that we don’t have to be in the category of those who don’t know what God is like or what God wants for the world because in Jesus’ life and teachings God is clearly on display and his will is clearly stated by Jesus in more than one occasion. We may not be comfortable by some of the things Jesus told us about God and the fact the he expected us to live according to God’s will and purposes. We have been forgiven by God and this happened before we even acknowledged our sin (Rom. 5:8).

Forgiveness does not mean forcing others or even demanding that they respond positively to you, it is rather you deciding on your posture towards them. It is a choice that we each must make and biblically speaking, it is not dependent entirely on the other’s response or non-response to you. In 19981 a Turkish gunman attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II as we can see in this time magazine cover below. Four years later in 1984 another Time Magazine picture caught the world’s attention. The Pope embraced his would assassin and offered forgiveness to him.

In this picture, the Pope offered us a message of forgiveness that our world desperately need. The Pope said, “I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned, and who has my complete trust.” The Pope said to his would be assassin that “the Lord gave us grace to live as brothers.” In this act the Pope put on display the words of Jesus indicating that they are not simply words written on the pages of the Bible but that Christians living those words out in the real world makes a difference and shines light in the midst of darkness of revenge and score settling.

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