Summary: Part 7 in series Relating to God: What We Can Learn About God Through Our Closest Relationships On Earth. This message looks at forgiveness and, in a bit of a twist on the usual take on the topic, considers the question "Have you forgiven God?"
Part 7 in series
Relating to God: What We Can Learn About God Through Our Closest Relationships On Earth
Wildwind Community Church
March 21, 2009
Henri Nouwen wrote, “Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all of us love poorly. We do not even know what we are doing when we hurt others. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour – unceasingly.”
Can there be any question that in any healthy relationship there must be forgiveness? Show me a person who refuses to forgive and I will show you a person who is seething with resentment and bitterness and frustration. Show me a marriage where there is no forgiveness and I will show you two people on their way to a business partnership – raise the kids, provide the rides, bring the snacks, make the money – and that’s about it. Because forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. And all of us love poorly.
It didn’t take me long to realize that almost any time I would see a couple in my office, I was sitting across from two people who both felt ripped off. Think about that for a minute. Usually when someone is ripped off there is a rippee and a ripper. Someone robs and someone gets robbed. But a lot of the time, in relationships, both partners feel like they’re the one getting ripped off. Both insist the other partner stole their joy, stole their happiness, stole their freedom, stole their peace, stole their confidence. But you know what’s really weird? If I steal $20 from you, I’m not plus $20 and you’re now minus $20, right? Not in relationships. Usually in relationships, one partner says the other has stolen all this stuff from them, only the other partner can’t produce it. The partner who supposedly stole all this happiness, peace, joy, confidence, etc., can’t produce it. Doesn’t have it. In fact, probably hasn’t seen it in years. He says, “She stole my peace. She took my fun. She made off with my freedom.” Really? Well if she stole your peace, how come she doesn’t have any? If she took all your fun, why hasn’t she had fun in years? If she made off with your freedom, why does she feel like she’s living in chains? She says, “He stole my confidence. He took my enthusiasm. He made off with my happiness.” Yeah? Where are they then? If he stole your confidence, why is he not confident? If he took your enthusiasm, how come he’s not enthusiastic? If he made off with your happiness, what’d he do take it and then bury it? Because it’s not showing up on his face, that’s for sure. In most broken marriages you are likely to have two people who both feel ripped off – two people who have not been able to forgive the other for taking whatever they supposedly took. Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. And we all love poorly. That is why we all need to forgive, and be forgiven. Nouwen goes on to say:
“Forgiveness means that I continually am willing to forgive the other person for not being God – for not fulfilling all my needs. I, too, must ask forgiveness for not being able to fulfill other people’s needs….Human beings…are all so limited in giving that which we crave. But since we want so much and get only part of what we want, we have to keep on forgiving people for not giving us all we want.”