Beloved, let us love one another, said the author of 1 John, for God is love. Likewise Paul in his triumphant hymn to the Corinthian church: faith, hope, and love abide, these three, and the greatest of these is love. For Christians, no less than any others, love is an essential part of the human experience.
But love is a tricky thing, full of delight and hurt, aspiration and risk all at the same time. Because every loving heart can be wounded, because every love-inspired promise can be broken, because every loving friendship can be severed, there lies at the heart of true Christian community the essential need for forgiveness. Indeed, if the foundation of the church is God’s grace, then the currency with which we conduct our everyday affairs is forgiveness.
Forgiveness originates in Jesus Christ, and grows in our hearts by his word, and bears fruit in our lives by shaping our will and guiding our actions. Before and behind us, and all along the path to God’s shalom we find forgiveness. Unforgiveness, on the other hand, prevents us from peace. It keeps us from sharing the whole nature of God. It weighs us down with uncertainty and mistrust and bitterness, sours our expression with cynicism and becomes a barrier in our path to God.
At some point in time each of us will suffer an injury at the hand of love which seems too big to let go, too important to leave out of our autobiography. But in Matthew’s gospel Jesus urges us to release such injuries and remember them no more. We are invited to see our wounds in the light of the Cross of Christ, to witness the power of the resurrection, and to remember: that our Christian community originates in the forgiveness of Christ, and is sustained in our forgiveness of one another.
Jesus bids us rise above the shifting wind of our emotions and feelings. Forgiveness is meant to be a daily practice… a way of life… distinguishing mark of our new birth in Christ Jesus.
December 15, 2014