I don’t know if any of you have seen this news story, but it’s one of the saddest things I have ever read. Basically, a pastor of a church in Florida is planning on burning copies of the Quran in a protest on 11 September 2010. I understand the man’s point but I feel he is wrong. But it doesn’t matter what I think. As a representative of Christ, the one question any one of us should be asking ourselves is ‘How would Jesus act in this situation?’ or ‘What would Jesus do (WWJD)?’ I think that the answer is pretty obvious.

Taken from the article:

‘When do we stop?...How much do we back down? How many times do we back down?...Instead of us backing down, maybe it’s time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behavior.’

I believe that Jesus responded to this question. In Matthew 18, Peter asks Jesus, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’ He then goes on to tell a story about the Reign of God and how people are supposed to live and act and be within that realm. This Reign of God is now. Not sometime in the future, but right now. The pastor’s question of ‘How many times...’ has been answered by the One he follows. The meaning of the story Jesus told is that those of us in the Reign of God are to be people of forgiveness. That is to be our creed; our modus operandi  - to forgive. In other words, the answer to ‘how many times’ is ‘infinitely’.

Forgiveness is an important aspect of the Realm of God. One could even say that it’s one of the foundations. When asked about how to pray, Jesus responded with a simple prayer that has come to be known as the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ or the ‘Jesus Prayer’. In that prayer, Jesus said, ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us’ (Matthew 6.12). Apparently this is just as shocking to the disciples as it is to us because he goes on to explain himself. ‘If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins’ (vv 14-15).

In another place, Jesus said, ‘Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven’ (Luke 6.37).

Finally, in John, Jesus told his followers, ‘If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven (John 20.23). To be given the authority to forgive someone’s sins is a huge responsibility. For in the doing of such, one is acting on the behalf of God toward that person. Furthermore, not forgiving someone is also acting on the behalf of God. And none of us knows the heart of a person, only God does. Therefore, we must always forgive.

In the Lindisfarne Community, our ‘motto’ is, ‘To Love. To Serve. To Forgive.’ I think this is just what the ‘world’ is looking for right now. Not more violent extremism. That only perpetuates the problems. Violence only begets more violence. All of creation, not just the people, ‘is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who [God’s] children really are...with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time’ (Romans 8.19-22). What Jesus tells us about living within the Realm of God is that we have to act like the ‘children of God’. And what he means by that is that we must be those who ‘work for peace, for they will be called the children of God’ (Matthew 5.9). To live that way, to live like Jesus, is to live in the extremely unpopular way of loving others - even our enemies; of serving others - even those who hate us; and of forgiving everyone - even our enemies ‘for they don’t know what they’re doing’ (Luke 23.34).

In the Love of the Three in One,

Jack+, LC


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