As We Forgive Those Who Have Trespassed Us. Really?
A Message from Pastor Bob:
We Methodists say it a lot. Every Sunday. Often during the week. Methodists, other churches as well, depend on The Lord's Prayer. It does cause us to pray in unity no matter how different we might be. But what about that word rarely used in modern English? What about our "trespasses"? What are we called to do with that? Here's a summary of a grand Bible story with an ending both warming to the heart and scary to the mind.
Once upon a time there was a nice couple, Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac was blessed with a special covenant (spiritual contract) his dad made with God. Isaac was to pass it on to his eldest son. Rebekah birthed twins - two boys, a few minutes apart. The first she named Esau and the second Jacob. They grew into young adults with very different personalities. Esau was to receive the special covenant since he was born first. But one day, Jacob and his mom decided he should get it. A very bully kind of plot was developed to steal Esau's inheritance. (Check this out in Genesis 24:30-45).
Upon finding out what happened, Esau was top level furious. He left the country with no intent to come back. Jacob stayed around the home area. Life continued with much joy and the occasional mishap. That's what life is, right?
Many years later things changed. Change, though we often tire of it, can be a spiritual and life building blessing. Jacob sent a message to Esau by way of messengers inviting him to come home. He had gifts to share. The messengers returned with an affirming answer, yes, he would come. But Jacob was also afraid. Was his angry brother coming back to kill him? destroy his family and property? and in someway take his revenge? That would be logical thinking on Jacob's part. (Check this out in Genesis chapters 32 & 33)
One day he could see Esau's entourage of 400 people approaching. He was scared. Concentrate on verse 33:04: "But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept." (NRSV)
One trespass forgiven. The practice of forgiving someone who has hurt you is very difficult. We say, "forgive but not forget." But really, it often takes more courage to forgive, or reconcile, someone than to just keep the grudge and hurt inside. Very difficult. Sometimes we say, "Well I'll forgive them if they'll forgive me." But it takes a first step. Somebody must take a chance and be the first one to speak up.
Just because I'm a pastor doesn't mean I'm any better at this than you are. We both know that healing starts with a first-step risk. I have had a difficult time with a close relative; I can't remember who reached out first, but I think it was me. But I am at peace now that we began to reconcile before he died unexpectedly.
My prayer is for you. What do you need to do? Ask Jesus, the Great Healer.
Blessings to you,