Remembering that Kingdom Living is About Being “Forgiveness People”

The anger simmers. I’m trying to keep it from reaching a full on boil. Someone stole my bank card number for the second time in two weeks. In addition, it happened a few times in recent years. But the timing of it all really struck me. We are all dealing with so much right now. Who would do this?

The impact of the violation permeates through my mind. I am aware of the broken state of a relationship with someone I don’t know. But their actions hurt me. A growing sense of distrust of my companions in this world enters in.

The impact of the violation permeates through my body. Once again, I must invest time and energy making phone calls, getting a new card and reconnecting all my online bill payments.

The impact of the violation permeates through my soul. I feel the wound of brokenness. Although I recognize we live in a sinful world, the consequences of trespassing on my being cannot be dismissed or ignored.

And despite my anger at being trespassed against, I am forced to reconcile a truth: I have trespassed against others. That fact also permeates my mind, body, and soul. I can feel the pain I have inflicted on others. Who would do this? Someone who feels desperate. Someone who has relied on their own devices to fix a problem. Someone susceptible to the deceitful whispers of evil. Someone ……. like… me. While I have never stolen a bank card, my actions at times have “stolen” from others. Peace. Time. Energy.

Our sins may vary in degree of earthly consequences but they share one thing in common: alienation from God and each other. Recognizing our common humanity opens us up to the truth that we all need Jesus. As we approach Easter, I am especially mindful of his radical message of forgiveness. He spoke it through words and actions. It was met with the same resistance then as it is now because humility, surrender, and compassion don’t flow easily out of a broken humanity. One that feasts on pride and control.

But when we fail to recognize the beauty of Jesus’ message, we miss out on being full participants in the unfolding of his new kingdom. N.T. Wright, in his book, The Lord and His Prayer, writes about Jesus’ original followers as “forgiveness people. “Failure to forgive one another wasn’t a matter of failing to live up to a new bit of moral teaching. It was cutting off the branch you were sitting on. The only reason for being Kingdom -people, for being Jesus’ people, was that forgiveness of sins was happening; so if you didn’t live forgiveness, you were denying the very basis of your own existence.”

Praying the Lord’s prayer demands living into the words. It means being like the one who taught it. There is a reason many turned away from Jesus’s offer to become “apprentices.” It’s hard.”

When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
10     Your kingdom come.
    Your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
11     Give us this day our daily bread.[c]
12     And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13     And do not bring us to the time of trial,[d]
        but rescue us from the evil one.[e]
Matthew 6:7-13.

Trespasses. Sins. Debts. Regardless of the semantics, the nuances are the same: broken relationship.

“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.” Matthew 6:14

The Kingdom vision compels me to reach toward the hard act of forgiveness. Of acknowledging the common struggle of the flesh that my offender and I share. Jesus took on the pain necessary for restoration. May I embrace the same because he made it possible.

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