We are called to love one another as Christ has loved us and to forgive those who persecute us. But that’s the thing about forgiveness. There’s so much beauty in its meaning but so much resistance in putting it into practice.
When we’re hurting it’s hard to imagine finding peace. It’s harder still to even consider forgiving the one(s) who caused the hurt. As Christians, that’s exactly what we’re called to do. But how do we get from the pain to the point where forgiveness is something we are truly able to offer?
The answer lies in prayer, in believing that Christ is the greatest example of strength, loving sacrifice, and forgiveness we will ever know. That when we humble ourselves before Him, He not only forgives our transgressions but provides the strength and grace we need to forgive others.
Scripture shows us again and again who Christ is and who we are called to be through Him.
Jesus is both the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for the sins of the world and at the same time, He is the Lion of Judah, the king of kings with all authority, might, and power.
When John the Baptist proclaimed in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,” he was announcing the arrival of THE Lamb of God; the perfect sacrifice that would fulfill what no other sacrifice ever could, the redemption of mankind. This message of forgiveness shows us the heart of a loving God even before creation itself.
Christ is the living embodiment of forgiveness and the example, above all others of what that truly means. His suffering was immense, unimaginable, and yet as He hung on the cross, bleeding, marked for our transgressions, and dying for our sins, He uttered not a word of anger. Rather, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” we’re the words He spoke (Luke 23:34).
Christ is demonstrating, in a real and undeniable way, that offering grace in the midst of persecution is what we are supposed to do. As hard as it is, as unwelcome as it proves to be sometimes, we are called, nonetheless, to follow His example.
Revelation 5:5 tells us to “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
This passage reveals that Jesus Christ, as a descendant of David and Judah, came into the world to forge a new covenant and usher in a new kingdom of heavenly glory. Having conquered sin and death, He is indeed the King of Kings worthy to break the seals.
Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.Revelation 5:9
Just as the Old Testament paved the way for the coming of the Messiah, the New Testament reveals, over and over again, exactly what the new covenant is. It is a covenant of forgiveness and redemption bought and paid for through the blood of Christ.
How many times are we called to forgive? Not just seven times, but seventy times seven, Matthew 18:22. As Christians, we are taught not to limit the number of times we forgive. Instead, we are instructed to forgive with as much grace the thousandth time as we do the first. And the only way we are able to do this is through the spirit of Christ that dwells within us.
Through Christ, we are forgiven over and over again and through Christ, we are given the strength and grace to offer forgiveness again and again too.
It takes humility and a willingness to relinquish control, something we’re often not very good at, to be living examples of Christ. Yet, it is precisely when we let go of our pride and turn our hearts to God’s word that we truly live as He taught us.
For me, deliverance and peace came the moment I humbled myself at the foot of the cross. In my arrogance, I had caged myself not only in my own shame and guilt but alongside those who had wronged or hurt me in some way. Some of those hurts were immense, others I held onto out of anger, and still others out of a misguided need to include them as part of my pain story. Whatever the reason, I was in that cage of my own free will. It was my choice to stay there, just as freedom would be my choice too.
In surrendering my life to Christ, I was placed firmly on the path to freedom. I still had to do the work. I had to relinquish control. I had to seek grace and mercy. Most of all, I had to be willing to not only forgive, but to pray for those who had hurt me. To love them too, just as Christ loves me despite my sins. That’s not an easy thing to do. And it’s definitely not something I could’ve ever done on my own.
In prayer, I asked God for strength. I asked for guidance and courage. I asked for His Word to take root within me and grow. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth,” Psalm 121:1-2.
And forgiveness came. And so did peace. I no longer carried those burdens. I no longer existed in that cage. I was shown mercy and unconditional love and I was asked to extend the same to others. To rebuke the sin, but to love and pray for the sinner, just as Christ has loved me.
That’s the thing about forgiveness. There’s so much beauty in its true meaning, but it’s not until we relinquish all resistance and put it fully into practice that we become living examples of Christ’s Spirit living in us.
Hate cannot survive
in the presence of His love.
Fear cannot survive
in the presence of His promises.
Discord cannot survive
in the presence of His peace.
Lies cannot survive
in the presence of His truth.
Darkness cannot survive
in the presence of His light.
His presence within us is everything.
And when He said, “Love others
as I have loved you.”
And, “Pray for those
who persecute you.”
That is what He meant.
JN Fenwick (© 2021-2023) | mothjournal14