If you choose, you can play this song as the soundtrack to this post, if it is not your cup of tea, continue on:
Many times we walk in unforgiveness, it's such a life-killing emotion. I could spend hours explaining forgiveness, trying to convince why we should forgive, I could list what forgiveness is or isn't, the benefits to me or you, but I thought maybe I'd use a mental picture. I like when people describe things and you can visualize it, so here goes. Picture yourself standing before the cross, Jesus said His last words and breathed His last breath. His head drops and His Spirit is gone. Since we live in the "here and now" we know that He died to change our world, He was victorious over the work of darkness, but we wouldn't of known this that day.
You may choke up picturing this, or you've heard and read about it so much that it doesn't have the impact it did when you first met Him and realized what He actually went through for you. But, what I want you to do is look to your right and to your left. Standing next to you are various people that may have hurt you in some way, some very severe ways, some unforgettably disturbing ways. Your spouse who abused you for years, your uncle who touched you over and over, your best friend who cheated with your spouse, your mom who you always had to perform for and never quite measured up, your dad who was never there and when he was only let his fists do the talking, your boss who verbally abused you daily, your cousins that betrayed your trust, the co-worker who stole a promotion and buried your career, your neighbor who gossips about everything you do, the woman at the salon that is always jealous and nasty to you, the guy in a prison cell who took your child in a dui accident, the person that hurt you just 2 minutes ago.
But wait, what about us? Sometimes it's us that carry guilt. We refuse to forgive ourselves, or we feel we've done far too much to deserve forgiveness. We did the abusing, we did the touching, we did the cheating, we placed the unreasonable expectations on others, we were never there and when we were we let the fists do the talking, we verbally abused our employee, we stole a promotion and buried the career of another, we gossip about our neighbor every day, we are jealous and nasty to others, we sit in the prison cell because of a dui accident that took someone's child, we just hurt someone 2 minutes ago.
But back to that day. Standing around you on the day Jesus was on the cross, every last one of those people are standing around you right now taking in the scene of Christ's death. They are all looking up at Him. Most of them are smiling, laughing, cheering, and celebrating. You didn't realize what He did for you that day, who It was that went up on that cross, for many years of your life, and for some of them you may of heard of Him and even sung about Him, but you didn't really KNOW Him. You were just like the person who hurt you today on that day. Smiling, laughing, cheering. I'm sorry, but you were, we all were. Wow, it almost seems right to hold on to that anger at them. It seems right to hold on to that anger at yourself. It sucks, because I want to look at myself and say, "NO!" on that day I would have been different, I would have said something, I would have helped Him, I wouldn't have been like those "others", I would have...
You see, it's easy when we finally get to Know Him to realize how special it was that in all that pain He endured, He died to bless us. Bless us! While we were in the filthiest pits. Of course we justify ourselves, the gossip says at least he didn't lie, the liar says at least he didn't steal, the thief says at least he didn't rape, the rapist says at least he didn't kill, the killer says at least he didn't molest. But, here's what's sometimes difficult for us to grasp, as much as we try to excuse our own behavior, our own behavior still led us to putting Him on the cross. The smallest shred of our guilt caused us to lash out in anger. We were desperate to appease our false god of guilt in the only way we knew how, by blood. And to set us straight, set our minds straight, He gave that blood. He stepped in to satisfy our blood lust.
But for you, you may be overwhelmed by what you have done, you may actually do the opposite, instead of minimizing what you have done, you maximize it. You, every year, every month, every day, every hour, every minute replay your bad deeds. You have made yourself a prison, others may have forgiven you, may have let it go, may have set you free in their hearts and minds, but you will never let it be so. Someone has to pay, and that someone is you. Again, we were desperate to appease our false god of guilt in the only way we knew how, by blood. And again, to set us straight, set our minds straight, He gave that blood. He stepped in to satisfy our blood lust.
You see, that day He didn't just give His blood for us, He spilled His blood for all of those people standing to our right and left too. Jesus was put on the cross by us. People involved in all kinds of sins, missteps, sexual issues, hurtful words, hurtful actions, for when we've let down loved ones, stole, betrayed, mocked, cheated, hurt, killed, and destroyed. He went through horror, torture, for all of us, all of them. Whatever we've done, He was the victor over all of that. It's gone, done, put behind Him, never to be remembered. He appeased your conscience, He appeased their conscience. He quashed your guilt, He quashed their guilt. He set our minds right about our relationship with the Lord. He set our minds right about a relationship with those who have harmed us in a myriad of ways. He also set our minds right about a relationship with those we have harmed in a myriad of ways as well. His love set you free, and it set them free.
Now you may be getting a little more of the picture. That's fantastic. You are beginning to understand that just as He was placed on the cross by them, and they did the most horrible things to you and others, today you may realize a little more clearer, or for the first time, He was placed their by you just as well that day, for the most horrible things you did to others. His forgiveness crossed a chasm for you, He crossed the chasm between you and those who harmed you, and He crossed a chasm between you and those you harmed that day. The most you could ever get from someone in payment to you for how they've hurt you is their life, and the most someone could get from you for how you've hurt them is your life. He gave that life to you, He gave that life to them.
He gave you His life to destroy any separation you felt between you and Him. He gave His life to destroy any separation felt between them and Him. He gave His life to destroy any separation felt between you and all those who have harmed you. And, He gave His life to destroy any separation felt between you and all those you harmed. He went to the cross and in that loving act we feel the hardness of our hearts melt away and we finally have the ability to be able to love each other enough to forgive each other, and forgive ourselves, for anything done on earth, just as His Father forgave each and every one of us before time began for anything we've done on earth. I pray you really understand that this day and it follows you for the days to come.
All that stuff that we are hanging onto and not willing to let go of, that we're using to hang over someone's head, that we're holding over our own heads, that is keeping us imprisoned to grief or misery, it really does keep us from really walking in this blessing of Love that He provided. It keeps us from really feeling Him next to us, feeling Him as a part of us. He is still there, He never was far from you, but these negative emotions cause us to not feel him, not to truly see how enveloped by His love we are. But please realize, He was more than willing, and He was more than happy, to be able to set us free to love, to love Him, to love us, and to love them by His Blood, that day.
This may not be one of my most popular posts, it requires a lot of thinking, a lot of soul searching, in some it may bring bad memories to mind. But, I ask you to please not read this and be covered in guilt or shame, that is not why I'm writing this. This isn't to place you back in bondage, to rehash things done to you, or that you've done. This is to make you realize that you are free, that they are free, that you all are free. Please realize that whatever you feel was needed to make things right, make things right from pain given or pain received, has been done. It is finished. There may still be steps needed to restore or reconcile relationships, and some relationships may never be whole from the fracture while we walk this earth, but in your mind, in your soul, remember always, you are free, and so are they. Receive that freedom today.
So, in closing, when I really sit down and picture what I've described and think about it, one thing keeps screaming out at me and it does bring me close to tears. That is, how can we find it so hard to forgive, them, us, everyone, after what He did on the cross to enable us to truly know Love and be able to truly walk in forgiveness? By not offering forgiveness to them, to ourselves, to everyone, aren't we just replaying that day over and over in our minds but never letting the event move forward 3 days to when He rose? I don't ever want to forget Him on the cross, but I want to walk daily with, and be completely filled by, the joy of him rising.
Because when He rose, I, we, rose too!