Thursday 7/30/2015 6:57 AM
The theme of my devotions this week is forgiveness. It seems like there is very little forgiveness in our society. Grudges are held for years and the past is constantly dredged up and relived in our political process. It seems we want our leaders to be without spot or blemish and we are constantly disappointed when people fail the test. When violence erupts in a mass shooting or in a crime of hate those who knew the perpetrator always express shock. Phrases like, “He seemed like just a normal person” abound in the news bites shown on television.
My reading today included John 8:1-11, the story of the woman who was caught in adultery. Her accusers wanted to stone her, as the law demanded. Jesus wrote something on the ground and then suggested that those who were without sin should cast the first stone. The passage says that her accusers all left, the older ones first and then the younger. Finally Jesus asked the woman where her accusers were and then told her that he didn’t accuse her either and to go and sin no more. I have a feeling that if she lived in our society today her reputation would be ruined and she would have little hope of having a second chance. Unfortunately, just as in Jesus’ day, I have a feeling the religious establishment would be leading the charge, calling for judgment and punishment.
In Moving Toward Forgiveness, Marjorie J. Thompson addresses the issue of forgiveness. She writes, “As we recognize more deeply our dependence on God, we will also come in touch more profoundly with our shortcomings. We may become aware of the beam in our own eye that has prevented us from seeing clearly how small the speck is in our sister’s or brother’s eye. Discovering the depth of our sin has a way of putting the faults of others in perspective. It is shocking to some when Mother Teresa of Calcutta claims she engages in her ministry of love because she knows there is a Hitler inside her. The great saints are not shocked by any form of degradation in the human heart; they know its potential deep within themselves. This capacity to identify with human sin to its outer reaches characterizes the humility and lack of judgmentalism present in so many holy ones through the centuries. Mercy for others grows from sorrowful knowledge of the human heart we share. The ability to acknowledge fully one’s own sin is thus a powerful path to forgiveness of others.”
Our world needs more caring, empathy, and forgiveness; and Christians should be leading the way in showing others what that looks like. Unfortunately too often we are the opposite end of the spectrum.