JESUS’ foundational teaching, underpinning everything of the character of God in Him, pivoted around reconciliation — bundled in myriad forms of the Hebrew shalom. Completeness, sanctity, forgiveness, acceptance, inclusivity, not least formational and foundational, the reconciling of humanity back to God.
Let’s focus on the concrete term of forgiveness to ground the concept of reconciliation:
“Forgiveness comes as a struggle for a way of life.”
What on earth can this concept mean? Forgiveness is the hardest thing we will encounter on this earth. This is because life binds us within relationships. Bitterness is a common human temptation and experience. It is a challenge for every human being to overcome. Hence the Saviour’s message. What Jesus came to preach we have to take to heart and apply. It works.
Forgiveness is the struggle we enter when we want Jesus’ way of life. And Jesus will complete us through the struggle, in the learning and application of surrender.
The truly broken people I meet have the same story — rejection early in their lives they couldn’t seem to ever reconcile. It seems a cataclysm they cannot resolve. And they stay broken. They cannot surrender it to Jesus. It’s the opposite for those who have wrestled with and overcome their brokenness. Theirs is the dimension of wholeness and healing, to every corner of their lives, because they forgave. Because they made an ongoing practice out of reconciliation in every part of their lives. And yet, the paradox is this: we, you and I, are at times broken as we are at times whole. Forgiveness comes as we struggle for a whole way of life.
Jesus is the key. The Man. His teaching. The topic of forgiveness. The concept of casting away the world’s faulty and broken logic, of ‘justice’, for a bigger dream. A dream only God can found and ground within us. And now is the time. Now, while blood pumps through your arteries, whilst oxygen courses through your body to nourish your cells so those neural pathways might make those connections. Now, whilst familial brokenness wreaks its cancer through our and others’ lives. Before death takes a person beyond the reach of our reaching out.
A person. A situation. A bitterness unreconciled. Identify it now as God’s Spirit puts His finger on it.
Ditch the fallacy that it’s your right to hold them to the wrong. Embrace the fact that forgiving their wrong is your key to making it right.
If forgiveness comes as a struggle for a way of life of wholeness, we could agree we want that way of life whatever the cost. And we know in faith that God’s blessed shalom stands as the reward for giving up every shred of resentment; that the person and situation be utterly unshackled from the moorings of our antipathy.
The vision we may have is one of us blessing them with a love we have never previously given to anyone. For, this love is the love of God giving to this person what they can only imagine is God-inspired. We see in this vision the actual melting away of grief even in the action of giving our love away.
Forgiveness is a daily process, a practice never to be mastered, only appreciated for the value it tips back into our lives.
Jesus came to teach us to forgive in order that He could heal us.