‘Father forgive them, for they know no what they do.’ Yap, you guessed it… the words of Jesus Himself. For years, every time I read this, I thought, gee, that’s nice… He is such a great example of forgiveness for us all. Funny thing, context… has a way to show things in HD. Shift perspectives.
Let me give you some. See, when He said these words He was hanging on a cross, looking down at the people that put Him there, and somehow this is the first phrase to leave His lips. What does it teach us about love? Everything! This one line, this single moment in time, gives us all we ever need to grasp about love.
Jesus explained this very moment long before it occurred. When asked how many times we are to forgive those who sin against us, He answered saying, 70 times 7. The exact amount, in this case, is hardly relevant. What He was teaching His disciples was an approach to life. Aristotle said: ‘we are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit.’ I don’t necessarily agree, but the man had a point. Habits are formed through repetition. If I forgive 70 times 7 times. Surely forgiveness will become so engrained in my being that it will become my default response. This is where the truth is at!!
What is it that makes us react with forgiveness to those who have done us incredible wrong? Is it weakness? Is it lack of self-worth? Or could it be love? This is what I say. It is love. Love as it should be! Why is it so important that love becomes the reference from which we approach other people? Surely if people act unjustly towards us they should face the consequences?
When the disciples confront Jesus about the 10 commandments in the gospels He replaces all of them with two. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbour as you love yourself, all the commandments are contained in these two.’ A very logical conclusion containing profound truth. If we love God with all our being that eradicates our self-centredness, our individualistic point of view, and our materialistic strife for success. As a result of this, we will automatically seek first the kingdom of God as He instructs us.
Remember from my post on Relationship I mentioned that God is love and we are the expression of that love? Now I am going to jump a few steps, but it is important that I tie down this concept. I am God’s representative, I am Christ in me. So if God is in essence, love, and I am an expression of that love, am I not also in essence love? So what Jesus was saying when He talked of forgiveness was a pathway to finding ourselves. A pathway that starts with loving the Creator in a personal relationship, but then goes further: love your neighbour as you love yourself.
Two important aspects are brought to light here. First, we need to learn to love ourselves unconditionally as our Creator loves us. It is with this love that we will in return love others. You see now why we need to forgive? Not for the offender, not to give him a break. We forgive for our own benefit.
(Ludicrous right?!) Let me paint you some context, with today’s discount colour of choice… blue 😛 Humans invade a foreign planet for a rare metal only found there. They have plenty trouble with the locals and things turn aggressive. The story portrays a human insurgent exposed to the true nature and workings of this apparent simple people and comes to the realisation that the humans have no idea what they are doing. The whole planet is interconnected. The life of the planet is conjoined across species and connected to the life-giving force in the tree of life that is sitting on the largest deposit of this metal, which is the target of the immanent human invasion. (It’s the plot of Avatar for those who haven’t guessed :P)
I believe we might be the same. Currently, we all believe we are in this for our own personal gain, pursuing our own interests and glory. Humans, arrogant and armed, thinking we own the world. Yet we were designed as big, blue people, meant to live interconnected, serving one another as we all derive our life force from the same source that is meant not for individual benefit, but for the mutual goodwill of one another. Precisely this reality is what Christ was referring to when we were forgiven for our ignorance at His crucifixion. We were humans, cutting down the tree that sustained the life of all. In so doing, we have been made partakers of the faith, through His amazing love and grace and can join this community, if we only choose to.
If we do not, it is like being disconnected from this source. It will lead to eventual demise as we can only sustain ourselves for so long without the force that gives us life, real life.
Love, therefore, is not this fuzzy feeling you get when you look at someone you like. No, love is our life essence; love is identity… Love, is who we are…