“Forgive your enemies. “
Since forgiveness was just as unnatural 2100 years ago as it now, the Apostle Peter seeks to bind it. You will recall that Peter was a pious Jew and knew the Mosaic law. The law that from Levitcus, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and in both Deuteronomy and Exodus denounced the hatred of fellow country men “in your heart,” and commanded the loving of “even the stranger.”
And yet, Peter asked, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus explains further, lest there be any mitigation of His command to love even -perhaps especially- our enemies. He spells out the awful consequences of hatred, bitterness, refusal to endure all things.
Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt…
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”The Gospel of Matthew
Because surely there are people whose actions warrant punishment, right?
The people who managed to overlook the coarse, arrogant, boorish behavior of President Trump and voted for him again?
Bringing it closer to home, the neighbor who borrowed my brand new truck and scratched the heck out of it?
The ‘best friend’ who seduced my husband?
The doctor whose mistaken diagnosis caused the death of my only son?
The uncle who raped me when I was four?
The list is long, in fact, it is never-ending for new grievances-and horrors- keep happening. And our innate response is a yearning for vengeance…justice, when faced with patent evil-evoking the razor’s edge of forgiveness.
we are reading and hearing about the need, not for vengeance exactly, but reparation…in both monetary ways and in a peculiar revisionist history seeking to cement America’s “systemic racism,” or in academic circles, critical race theory. Now embraced by the Democrat Party and resulting in the confounding notion of the New York Times 1619 Project.
Project editor Nikole Hannah-Jones’s essay, “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true,” was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for commentary on May 3, 2020.Ideology Over Excellence: Forbes Magazine
In one sense, I can understand.
Without underlying moral principles or any understanding of Truth-The Word-, then using words and their meaning as weapons makes eminent sense. With a stroke of our fingers, we can access all available knowledge…and in 2021, human will is supreme, right? Our pitiable words easily accommodating ruinous damage to our children as a cultural norm.
If one’s reality is fluid, that is, ungrounded in God’s Law, then identity is a construct: artifice. I never “felt” like a woman, and am therefore a man. Over 150 years ago, Dostoevsky explained:
If God did not exist, everything is permitted.The Brothers Karamazov
To a few close friends, I have shared my conviction that we Christians are being tested. Our faith, trust, and willingness to follow Him whose last words to his torturers were “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Jesus, I trust in You-beyond reason!
Indeed! Much easier said than done. By grace alone is it possible. “Father, do not hold this sin against them on my account, and in your mercy grant me the grace not to hold this sin against them either. “