Thursday, October 20, 2016

Forgiveness as Worship

The picture, by the way, is one I took and used in the
message on Sunday about worship.
Yesterday God showed me how two things in my life fit together. 

First, someone I care about has been going through a hard time. This involves some other people, and so I am hurt and angry for this person. I want those people who have hurt them to "get what is coming to them". I want them to "feel the way they've made us feel". Basically, I want revenge. It's not pretty, but there it is.

Add to that a message about worship that I preached last Sunday. I said worshipping Jesus resolves my heart problems. That's a nice statement. Fairly concise. Theologically and Biblically correct. I even gave lots of nice examples that made it applicable for people. However, these two came together for me yesterday. My anger and desire for revenge plus the message of the sermon.

And here's what came out the other side. Forgiveness is worship. Forgiveness is worship. Forgiveness is worship.

Forgiveness, not the I'm going to pretend that I'm not hurt by what you did type of forgiveness. But the I'm-going-to-pray-for-God-to-change-my-heart, I'm-going-to-stop-filling-my-mind-with-hateful-thoughts type of forgiveness. The type of forgiveness that understands that I forgive not for anyone else, but for me and my relationship with Jesus. The type of forgiveness that knows that unforgiveness leads to bitterness and a poisoned heart. That's the type of forgiveness that is worship. And it is an oh-so-costly type of forgiveness because it feels like everything in me wants blood the way David did in Psalm 109:8-15 
May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth. -(NIV84)

That's a prayer I've pretty much prayed recently. But here's the thing. This party who has caused pain in my life; I am not their judge. That's why praying this prayer isn't evil, asking God for justice isn't wrong. But taking it into my own hands would be. No, rather he calls me to something different in Ephesians 4:32.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. -(NIV84)

So when everything in me seems to be screaming for revenge or justice as I see it. Jesus calls to me saying here's what I want. "You are my son, and my sons focus more on what I have done for them than on what others have done to them. They fixate on the shape of the cross rather than the shape of their own pain. They trust in the God who sees all rather than trust in what their eyes can see of their circumstances. 

And in that choice, the choice to extend forgiveness rather than seek revenge, I am offering the worship of forgiveness. Perhaps the most costly worship I have offered in my life. 

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