Theological Insights from a Modern Perspective

Posts tagged ‘Forgiveness’

Hypocrisy

What better time to address hypocrisy than during the elections? Politics is rife with hypocrisy, from both sides (and then some).

Biden, after 40 years in the Senate, now claims that he has a plan to save Social Security, and that it is so bad that Trump will wipe it out in less than two years. Social Security has been in trouble since I got my first job back in the 70’s. Where was his plan during all these years? Face it, he has no plan, he won’t save Social Security. Why? Because it is the #1 tool to frighten voters with, “Social Security it broken, the other guy will devastate it, but I have a plan to save it. Vote for me!” Now, to be honest, Trump is saying the same thing, but at least he hasn’t been at it for 40 years.

Trump is not innocent in hypocrisy either. He has promised for four years now to “fix” the problems with the Affordable Care Act, while he has done nothing other than direct Congress to address it, knowing Congress will do nothing because they don’t want to be the ones tagged as taking healthcare away from people. And, no one really wants to fix the problems with the ACA. Why? See the above reasons for SS, they’re the same. For the next 40 years we will hear how the ACA is broken, the other guy wants to dismantle it, but I have a plan to fix it. Vote for me!

Jesus dealt with hypocrisy many times in his talks to the people. He pointed out the hypocrisy that existed in the religious political system of the time – the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were just as bad as the politicians of today:

(RSV) Matt 6:2 “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men.

(RSV) Matt 6:5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men.

(RSV) Matt 6:16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men.

Matthew 23:13 (RSV) “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.

In your dealings with other people do you show hypocrisy? Jesus told us how to treat each other:

Mark 12:28-31 (RSV) “Which commandment is the greatest of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

John 13:34-35 (RSV) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Matthew 5:43-45 (RSV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;

Who, you may ask, is my neighbor? Jesus provided a long answer to this one:

Luke 10:30-37 (RSV) “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Who do you consider your enemy? Trump? Muslims? Liberals? Blacks? Whites? Cops? How do you treat them? With love or disdain? Do you call them names? Slander them to your friends? Spray paint message? Destroy/loot their businesses? Do as Jesus told us to do, show them love and kindness, for they are children of God no less than you.

Matthew 5:43-48 (RSV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

If your person losses the election remember also what Paul tells us:

Romans 13:1-3 (RSV) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.

Love and forgiveness does not come easy, but I would like to share a story with you from someone who definitely gets it.

https://tinyurl.com/y4w692d6

 

The Sweet things in Life

Today is called Cheesefare in the Eastern Church, traditionally this meant that dairy products were not consumed from until Pascha. (more…)

WWYD?

smiley-face-question-markI’ve seen bumper stickers with WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) but that’s not the real question, instead the question should be What Would You Do? Each person and each situation is different. Our concerns for others, for ourselves, for our loved ones, where we live, and our lifetime experience all come together to make each of us unique. What is the right answer for one might not be the right answer for another.

Several years ago a group of radical Muslims in Africa stopped a bus, boarded it, and demanded all of the Jews stand up. What happened next was unexpected. Everyone on the bus stood up: Jew, Christian, and Muslim. They stood together to protect each other, not knowing if they would all be killed. The terrorists left.

Several years ago terrorists captured a plane and turned it towards Washington DC with the intent of crashing it into the Capitol building. The passengers wouldn’t allow it and tried to take the plane back, we know how that ended.

Last year a friend of mine was driving home after work, it was nighttime. He saw a woman on the side of the road trying to change her tire, so he pulled over to help. Something seemed strange, the tire jack was on the bumper, but the car tire wasn’t off the ground. Just then a glint caught his eye on the other side of the car, he saw something flash off of the light from his headlights. Quickly he put the car in gear and drove off, in his rear view mirror he could see someone come out from the side of the car swinging what looked like a crowbar. He was lucky.

peters-denialWhat would you do in each of these instances: Would you stand up? Would you join in the attack? Would you stop to help? Every action we take comes with possible consequences. People say you should ask WWJD, but we are human. Peter had his doubts and chose to preserve his life when the crowd asked if he knew Jesus. We look at that and say we would do differently. But, if Peter had stood his ground then he might not have been around to lead The Way; Christianity might not be what it is today. It’s okay to not take the “high road” in every circumstance. You are not going to be judged if you don’t always “do the right thing.” Jesus didn’t judge Peter, he didn’t toss Peter out of the group, he understood, and so should we. We’re not always going to make the “right” choice; we’re not always going to do what Jesus would. But we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it. Jesus would forgive us for being human, just as he forgave Peter.

Love doesn’t judge, it forgives.

Has someone sinned against you?

Sin is offending God, or going against His wishes/desires for us. When someone offends you or does something you don’t want then you could say that they have sinned against you, though we usually say that they have pissed us off. (more…)

Love Conquers All

Jesus asked that we love each other with the same love that he showed to us. Love demands two things: acceptance and forgiveness.

apologizingIf we are unwilling to accept that others may see/feel/believe different that we do then how can we truly love them? God accepts that we are different from each other, he made each of us as we were when we were born, and into the families into which we were born. He did not make us clones of each other, but made each of us different, and incomplete. With all due respect to Simon and Garfunkel, we were not made to be islands, but to need each other. Man needs woman, the hunter needs the gatherer, the warrior needs the diplomat, the liberal needs the conservative, and vice-versa. The Christian needs the Jew, the Muslim, and, yes, even the Hindu and Native American. It is only by seeing God in his Infinite Diversity that we can see God in everyone we encounter. And it is only by seeing God in others that we can accept each other fully.

forgiveness

Forgiveness is the other thing that love demands. We all make mistakes, it’s part of being human. Anyone who claims to not make mistakes has just made another. From Eve to Adam, down through the ages, man has made mistakes, but God has continued to love us. But you can’t forgive them unless you first love them, then accept that it is because of your differences that probably caused the disagreement in the first place. True forgiveness requires that we put the offense behind us, and not bring it up again. We cannot forget that it happened, but we can leave it in the past.

Acceptance and forgiveness aren’t easy, but for a Christian they are necessary. God forgave mankind for abandoning his will, then accepted that it was because of our free will that it happened. Jesus was the sign of that forgiveness, and our promised eternity with him is the sign of his acceptance.

Love, acceptance, and forgiveness. All are required of Christians, and all are the signs that we truly are followers of Christ.

John 13:35 (RSV) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Will people know you are a Christian?

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