Sunday, September 22, 2013

Is Forgiveness the Most Difficult Action in God's Kingdom?

Forgiveness: the pleasure of having the slate become clean after a nasty incident; Being forgiven wipes away so many ugly feelings, isolation and regret. Wow!

Forgiving others-often difficult! Forgiving our enemies?  "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you., that you may be sons and daughters of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:43-45) What do we do with these words? Are we to take them "literally"? Is this possible?

Today I'm watching the attempts of Kenyan authorities to learn what happened in Westgate Mall in Nairobi. Terrible signs of grief; unbearable shrieks of horror; a despicable crime: terror cutting the lives of 68 and injuring 175. Wow!

Several thousand miles to the east, at the same time, : At least 75 people were killed in a suicide bombing outside a church. This took place in Peshawar, Pakistan. Apparently, it's the worst attack on Christians, called, "a minority". Wow!

Can we hear of such events and find the word "forgiveness" coming into our minds, much less
finding the strength to actually follow the words of Jesus Christ?
My mind goes back several years to the death of three Christians in Eastern Turkey. Five young men under the age of 17 deliberately cultivated friendship with these believers. They said they wanted to "know about Christianity". However, the five capturing these Christian workers. Two were Turks and one German; they suffered torture and brutal deaths. The five young men were caught, arrested and a long legal process began.
While the court cases are still not completely finished in Turkey - the judicial approach - another kind of action, forgiveness, knocked down hatred and demolished many strongholds.
One of the widows, on the day of burial of her husband, said, "I live in your city. I buy bread at the stores where you buy bread for your children. My children go to the schools your children attend. This is my home. I am here to declare that I forgive those who murdered my husband." Very simple words, a very short message. But, a very deep reality: forgiveness:
Those words rocked the city of Malatya.
The impact across Turkey, for days afterwards, was one of utter unbelief. One of Turkey's most respected journalists wrote, "This action, by one missionary, accomplished more than a thousand missionaries preaching for a thousand years." The topic of forgiveness dominated personal conversations for days. "Why would a Christian widow forgive those who murdered her husband?
"For, though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Wow - Wow - Wow! (2 Cor.  10:3-5)

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