Dear Evergreen Family:
Last week I mentioned having a vague, poorly defined, feeling. I mentioned that I feel this need to get back to my center. I want a rest from noise. I want Jesus.
I want Jesus to be my center, and at the center of Jesus is forgiveness. It’s not just that Jesus forgave us for our sins, but it’s also our radical call to forgive others as we have been forgiven.
Forgiveness is front and center in the Lord’s Prayer. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus was asked how often we should forgive. “Seven times?” (meaning “a full number of times”). Jesus responded, “I tell you not as many as seven, but seventy times seven” (meaning something like “Don’t even try to limit it”) (Matthew 18:22). Forgiveness is not optional.
Forgiveness is also not a burden. It’s exactly the opposite of a burden. A burden is what we carry when we don’t forgive. Holding grudges is backbreaking work. Forgiveness means refusing to carry that load anymore. It doesn’t mean forgetting an injury and allowing it to happen again. It means deciding to stop being weighed down by a past injury. It means releasing the other, as much for your own sake as for theirs.
Forgiveness is very much out of fashion in our culture. I’m not even sure it’s considered a virtue anymore. It might be that it has become synonymous with naïveté or weakness. Or it may just not be on our radar. This is not good. This means our culture is in for an excruciating amount of backbreaking work, and there aren’t enough chiropractors in the world to put us all back together again.
Forgiveness is not optional. That’s not bad news. That’s good news. Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
May God bless us all.
Your Fellow Minister in Christ,