Duncan's message January 2019

Message from Duncan - January 2019

Did anyone upset you over Christmas? Someone upset me, and I was metaphorically sitting at home, sticking pins in a model, thinking of this person. It can be difficult to forgive.

Yet the bible tells of someone called Stephen. He was being stoned, for goodness sake. Lumps of rock hurled at him - bruising, tearing his skin, breaking bones, killing him. It was illegal anyway. The people throwing rocks didn’t have the authority to execute. So Stephen was being illegally tortured and killed. He could have complained. He could have shouted, ‘It’s not fair! You are hateful, murderous people who are scum! I curse you!’ But he didn’t. Instead, he forgave them.

How can we do that? It seems to me that all those in the bible who offered forgiveness were incredibly secure. Forgiveness grows from security in knowing where you are going, how you stand, and who’s in control. Stephen, Jesus, and others, were secure in God’s hands. He held them, and they knew it. They were so secure, it didn’t matter what happened. If we are secure in God, then we know everything will ultimately be well and other people can’t change that.

That said, we’re fallen, faulty. We get things wrong. I held a grudge. We get upset with people for crossing us. We think bad things of others. We’re terrible. But that’s the point. This Christianity thing is all of grace. What we do doesn’t get us to heaven, but Jesus does. We’re as bad as each other, and surely that helps us forgive. If you can look at someone and say, ‘I’m just as bad. I have sins going on that make me the same as you, but God loves me,’ then you can take a breath and say, ‘There but for the grace of God go I,’ and let it go.

Forgiveness isn’t weak. Forgiveness isn’t being too frightened to say that something is wrong. It confronts evil with God’s grace, shining light into darkness. Yet, forgiveness is also a sacrifice, for we give up any rights of revenge. Yet, forgiveness is powerful, for a person who forgives is in a position of strength. The bible says we not only have an obligation to forgive, we have a right! We want our rights, don’t we? We have a right to be strong and to forgive. Why should we be soft, twisted people who refuse to forgive? It’s easy and weak to refuse. But Christians are called to place our whole confidence in God, through Jesus.

We sometimes think forgiveness is useless and pathetic. But we don’t know how our act of forgiveness affects others, do we? What we do and say, how we act, can touch other people in ways we cannot imagine.

This all comes back to Jesus. It began with him speaking forgiveness on the cross: ‘Father, forgive them’. ‘Father’ comes first, as if all the love he knew, the security he had in knowing his Father was always with him, undergirded his willingness to forgive. His forgiveness and sacrifice were rock-solid in God. That is offered to us when we trust in him.

If you cannot forgive, if you find it difficult, because someone hurt you, or damaged you in some way, then realise that is normal. Most people are like that, We are all faulty. But God wants to show you his love, how he holds you secure, because of Jesus. He will work with you to forgive those around you. Why be weak?

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Webpage icon Duncan's Message Dec. 2018
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