The Core Sunday Gathering

August 28, 2011

Series: Avinu (The Prayer of Jesus)
Week 4: Deep In Debt

-Write down the worst thing anyone has ever done to you. Put it in your pocket, or your Bible.

-[SLIDE] Read from the Screen: Matthew 6:12

-Let’s start off with a seminary moment:

        -Out of the whole Lord’s prayer, we just have one petition that’s conditional on our own behavior

                -God will forgive you of your sins, but only if you forgive others

        -Matthew even includes a commentary from Jesus after the prayer expounding on it. (6:14-15)

                -Apparently this is the phrase in the prayer most in need of explanation

        -It seems to throw a wrench in God’s grace, doesn’t it? Like it’s a business deal instead of a gift?

        -But it’s not that God is trying to negotiate with us. It’s a statement of reality.

                -The fact is: If you’re not forgiving, you can’t be forgiven

                -Why? Because you’re not ready to receive grace, until you’re ready to give it.

                -An unforgiving person can never understand forgiveness, and thus can’t accept forgiveness.

                        -Even if God were trying to give it to them.

-So if we want to get to a point where we can understand God’s forgiveness

        -First we have to understand our own… and know how to give it, and how not to give it.

        -So let’s look at what forgiveness is NOT.

-[SLIDE] Forgiveness is NOT condoning bad behavior.

        -Question: What are the things we usually say in response to the words “I’m sorry”?

                -“It’s OK” –“No Big Deal” –Don’t Worry About It”

                -Why might this less than ideal? Because you’re making a statement about the behavior

                        -As in “Feel free to keep doing this… and next time you don’t need to apologize, either.”

                -But forgiveness doesn’t make a statement about the behavior itself

-[SLIDE] Forgiveness is NOT enabling a destructive lifestyle

        -If we’re supposed to forgive each other out of love

                -Then that love means we’re going to work to make each other’s lives better

                -When we wave off peoples’ sins, we are actually making their lives worse.

                -Assign Scripture: Proverbs 27:5 – Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

                -What does this mean? It means real love is not afraid to tell you the truth about your mistakes.

                        -It doesn’t brush it aside, and it doesn’t enable your destructive lifestyle

                -Think of a person who’s criticized you lately. Maybe they’re just rude and mean…

                        -Or maybe they really care about you, and want you to avoid the pitfalls, and live life to the fullest

                -Ask yourself also about the times you criticize others. Who are you looking out for? Them? Or Yourself?

-This isn’t just a seminary lesson. If we misunderstand forgiveness, we’ll find all kinds of reasons to withhold it.

        -And find ourselves in a permanent state of bitterness and unforgiveness

        -[SLIDE] UN-Forgiveness IS: The poison we drink, hoping others will die.

-Not understanding that we are virtually always taking the damage entirely on ourselves

        -Forgiveness will sometimes benefit the offender, sometimes not. But it always benefits the victim.

-Forgiveness can take different forms, depending on the situation.

-Sometimes forgiveness is offered to the offender

        -And sometimes it is only between you and God

        -[SLIDE] All we are saying with Forgiveness is “I waive my right to hate you, to seek vengeance against you.”

        -But really it’s a recognition that we never had that right to begin with.

                -Because we don’t have the jurisdiction to grant a pardon. Only the governor or president can do that.

                -The offender has to seek forgiveness from God to be truly redeemed

                -And they have to turn from their way to God’s way, before they can be freed from punishment

        -That’s not up to me whatsoever… the best I can do is pray for the perpetrator

        -[SLIDE] And we haven’t forgiven at all, unless we can pray this way. We have to hope for their redemption.

                -Until we can pray for their freedom, we ourselves are not free.

-Sometimes we have to change the way we think about the offender. (We do have a choice.)

        -Even if he happens to be hardened with violence, pride, and pure evil.

                -We have the freedom to see him as broken, oppressed or mentally ill

                -It’s God’s responsibility, and privilege, to judge him based on the reality of his heart

                -But our hearts can find their way to forgiveness when we allow every sinner a back story

                        -What if his mother abandoned him? What if he grew up in extreme poverty or starvation?
                        -What if she was she molested or raped? What if she was she verbally abused, or ostracized?

                -Allowances like this make room for our hearts to find empathy, and abandon their bitterness

-We can’t take on the identity of “victim” and give the offender the identity of “perpetrator”

        -Because then we forget that we ourselves are perpetrators, each with our own set of victims.

-The Hutu and Tutsi of Rwanda had to learn how to shed these victim/sinner identities, to find reconciliation and freedom.

        [SLIDE - VIDEO] ICYIZERE

-Pull out that paper again, with the worst thing anyone’s ever done to you.

        -Ask yourself how you felt at the time… completely betrayed? Used? Disillusioned? Furious?

        -How do you feel about it now? How much has that piece of paper shaped your character?

        -Both the victims and the offenders in Rwanda would be justified in allowing these events to shape them

                -[SLIDES] To be completely defined, and identified by hate, by anger, and by bitterness

                -Ruth’s mother-in-law was Naomi, but after her husband and sons all died,

                        -She asked people not to call her Naomi, but Mara, which means bitterness.

                -We are not going around changing our names, but some of us might as well.

                        -Because we are letting the sins of others shape us and develop us.

                        -We feed on it day after day as we let our brains marinate in the wrongs that were done

                        -And what can I say except you are what you eat.

                        -When you only eat the bitter root, you will become a very bitter, twisted person.

        -Are you willing to let that piece of paper shape you, and tell you what kind of person to become?

                -Or is that the privilege of your Father in Heaven, the Creator of your Heart, and Lover of your Soul?

        -If the Tutsi can let go, so can you. If they can offer reconciliation, and if the Hutu can accept it,

                -What tragedy in your life is holding you back?

                -Jesus will work his love through your heart the same way he worked it through theirs

                -We just have to let go. It’s up to you, now, what you do with that piece of paper.

PRAYER