In this post I touch on a similar idea to one I mentioned a few weeks ago when talking about the differences between forgiveness and trust.
(read more at “Tell it to the Church“, “The truth about trust” and “Forgiving the untrustworthy or trusting the unforgiving“)
When forgiveness is mentioned in the Church today, it can sometimes comes across a little trite. Not always! But, sometimes, it can sound like being a Christian (especially the minister or pastor!) means you must “forgive” and “accept” and accommodate everything about everyone. If not, you can get charged with being intolerant, impatient, being a stumbling block and all sorts of other misconstrued names.
Meg Guillebaud’s book, “After the Locusts” is a story of the genocide that occurred in Rwanda during 1994, and the following years of healing and forgiveness still taking place. Meg goes through the idea of practicing forgiveness and makes a distinction between that and trust and is careful to not fall into the trite and false idea of what it really entails for each of us.
Christian Forgiveness does not:
- Say that it doesn’t matter
- Pretend that we have not been hurt
- Simply obeying a command to do so
- Simply “forgive & forget”
- Find an excuse for what has been done
- Gain peace at any price (sometimes involves a conflict)
- Leave it with God (i.e. in a way that avoids personal responsibility)
- Always end in complete reconciliation (between the people involved)
- Come without restitution
Christian Forgiveness does:
- Begin with an understanding of what Christ has done
- Refuse to take revenge (c.f. Romans 12:19)
- Require an act of the will, not just a feeling
- Face reality (it is very often painful, but necessary)
- Accept and forgive ourselves
- Recognise God’s love and His justice go hand in hand
So it may be that “locusts” have attacked and destroyed your life. That doesn’t mean, as a Christian, you are expected to just shrug it off, absorb and ignore the pain and hurt. As a Christian, if you do that, you’re trying to do something that only Jesus can, did and should do. Nor should you be damning others for not doing so. Forgiveness is a decision – but is it not a choice to be naïve and ignorant or to overlook an offence. It is a means to refer something to a higher and more powerful figure who can address the problem fully and justly.
Forgiveness is not simple. It is not trite. But it is possible, even after your life has been ransacked. Whether by locusts or by heartless, gutless, uncaring buffoons.