Yesterday I was thinking of the line in the Lord’s Prayer that says “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.” I’ve often heard this line explained (and I think, correctly) to mean that “if we don’t forgive others when they wrong us, the Lord won’t forgive us in the ways we have wronged him”, and I believe this idea finds backing in the parable of the parable of the unmerciful debtor and other places in the Bible that I’m too lazy to look up right now.

In his sermon, Nate brought up an idea that has recently been recurrent in my thought life, that of “knowing” and/or “remembering”. The gist of this idea is that “if we really knew how things were, then things would be different.” i.e. “If we knew and experienced the truth of the cross, our lives would be completely changed.” (Or again, “If we really knew the impact that our eating habits have on the environment, we would eat local and organic foods.” The whole internalizing externalities thing haha.)

I think that concept applies very well in “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.” The line follows us calling God “Our Father”, “hallowing His name”, asking for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done, as well as humbling ourselves to receive what we need daily from His hand. Now if all these things were earnestly sought after and graciously given, then the question is: how could we not forgive those that sin against us?

In this light, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us” no longer sounds like a threat or an ultimatum, but rather an exclamation of praise, saying: “Lord, I am not and cannot be perfect (yet), but look at all you have done! I was once miserable and petty, but your Love, the one that chose me, has strengthened me to forgive others. Now please give me the Grace and Forgiveness I need to continue running deeper and higher into your Life.”

With this perspective, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us” no longer seems like a merit-driven earning of forgiveness (which, ceasing to be Grace, would also cease to be true forgiveness) but rather has the potential of being a litmus test of our relationship with the Lord. Jesus gives us a very easy and practical way to plumb the depths of our relationship with him, all we need ask is “How hard is it for me to forgive others?”, how much do we seek to stand on ‘our rights’? Is it crippling when we feel someone has gotten away with wronging us? With offending our Pride?

The Lord of the Universe, God Almighty and Creator of All Things came to earth as a baby, lived a perfect life only to be executed on a shameful and dirty cross, and I can’t forgive you for forgetting to pay me back those $7 from dinner that one time? For being funnier than I am? For not emailing me back? (Even for ignoring me or truly hurting me? For being a bad parent or friend to me?)

 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. – 1 Cor 2:1-5 (emphasis added)

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~ by justinhong on August 11, 2008.

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