Forgiveness is a Habit Part 1
Our Lent journey this year has us exploring forgiveness. Henri Nouwen once wrote “To learn to be part of a church is to learn to forgive and be forgiven.” We like the forgiven part. Forgiveness is of course central to the Gospel message- Jesus died on behalf of our sins. When Paul describes the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, he starts with the forgiveness found in Jesus. That forgiveness granted as a gift of God is not something that is kept solely for us. We grant that forgiveness to the people who have wounded, hurt, and sinned against us. What we find though is that forgiveness is not an event, but rather an embodied lifestyle. That lifestyle comes with habits. Last week we talked about the habit of prayer as an important strategy to learn to embody forgiveness.
This week I want to explore a more communal habit: the Lord’s Supper. I grew up in a church that practiced the Lord’s Supper only twice a year. One of those weekends was usually Memorial Day, which means many in our church did not participate that Sunday as they were out of town. I think I went through college participating in the Lord’s Supper two times. All that changed when I was called to pastor a church that practiced the Lord’s Supper every other week. The women would bake fresh bread for the time of communion. The whole sanctuary would smell like bread, building anticipation until the time of the supper. As I was not in the practice of participating in the Lord’s Supper, it got to a point to where I could not eat a piece of bread without thinking of Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf. That of course is the point. Because I was taking part in the Lord’s Supper so often, bread became an important reminder of the forgiveness found in Jesus.
The Lord’s Supper points us to a sacrificial love that we do not deserve, but is freely given by the God who cannot help but forgive. Every time we take the bread and drink the juice together, we are swept up in that story once again. We are reminded who we are in Jesus – forgiven people who have been called to forgive. We are reminded again and again that Jesus is within us, giving us the sustenance we need to live the forgiven life.
Posted on 03/19/2019 12:22 PM by Dr. Ray Miller
How Many Times Do I Forgive?
“Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” This is Peter’s question to Jesus in Matthew 18. I suspect Peter thought he was being generous here. After all, the person who is sinning against Peter is a repeat offender. Where do you draw the line? Where do you set the boundary?
“I tell you, not seven times, but seventy seven times (or seventy times seven depending upon what translation of Matthew you are reading)” is Jesus’ response. Does Jesus mean exactly 77 times, but offense number 78 that’s it? That’s one way of looking at it. However, seven in Hebrew numerology means wholeness or complete. It’s perfect. When Jesus says not seven times, but seventy seven times, it is a way of drawing us to the perfect character of God who embodies forgiveness. The number is not actually about the number. What Jesus requires of us is becoming the type of people who live out forgiveness on a daily basis.
This means that forgiveness is not an individual event. That’s how Peter viewed forgiveness. How many individual events of forgiveness should I grant? For Jesus, forgiveness is like breathing. Forgiveness is so ingrained in us that what naturally comes out is a lifestyle of forgiveness.
Forgiveness then is a habit that we embody
. Part of our goal for our Lent series called Living Forgiveness is to help you embody the habit of forgiveness. Prayer is an essential strategy to developing the habit of forgiveness. Prayer brings us into the presence and character of God, and places the character of God on our lips. That is why we are scheduling and challenging you to pray with us four times a day prayers that will place forgiveness and confession upon your lips. We have provided a sheet with the prayers and the times we will be praying: 9:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 2:00 PM, 7:00 PM. We are also providing a way for you to receive text message reminders to pray. If you would like these reminders, you can text Cbcpray to 84576. Join us in praying for forgiveness in order that we may forgive
Posted on 03/06/2019 1:09 PM by Dr. Ray Miller