Music, spiritual truth, and forgiveness

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Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37

“There will never be peace in this world outside of forgiveness.” – Rebekah Maul

Sometimes writing comes easily; sometimes my brain just won’t cooperate. This morning seems to be one of those no-cooperate times.

The first thing on my mind this morning is a hymn, “All the way my Savior leads me.” The song – set to a contemporary arrangement I did not recognize – moved me during worship yesterday.

All the way my Savior leads me, who have I to ask beside; How could I doubt his tender mercy, who through life has been my guide?

Music often does that to me. It somehow connects the core of my spirit with spiritual truth, plants God’s presence in that newly turned soil, then bridges that place of healing with the experiences of day-to-day life.

Sometimes music is so loaded with spiritual truth that I simply can’t sing, because I don’t have the capacity to process that much raw emotion. So I mouth the words and fight hard to hold it together.

This my song through endless ages, Jesus led me all the way…

Forgiveness:

1-Fullscreen capture 3122018 22349 PMThen Rebekah preached. Over the past few months, she’s been looking at The Apostle’s Creed as a foundational declaration of faith. This week it was “I believe in The Forgiveness of Sins.”

It’s impossible to have a redemptive understanding of forgiveness without first accepting the fact that we need to be forgiven. So we started – and this has been an ongoing conversation over the past few weeks – by talking about sin.

Halfway through her message, after reading Ephesians 4:25-32 and talking about kindness, and compassion, and “building one another up,” Rebekah said this:

  • 1-Fullscreen capture 3122018 22147 PM“I think about our world that is constantly at war with itself. I don’t know who said it, or when I heard it – maybe from a wartorn veteran, or maybe it was something that has evolved in my own psyche – but it’s the thought that without forgiveness, there can be no peace. Forgive others, forgive God, forgive ourselves. As Christians, we’re supposed to know this, but then we realize we are human, that we are in constant need of God’s grace and mercy in Jesus Christ, we realize if we do not receive it, then we are stuck, and we will continue to practice the brokenness that defeats.”

And it struck me that we live in a culture that systematically practices the brokenness that defeats; a culture where condemnation, payback, retribution, narcissism, self-promotion, rancor, virulence, revenge, and suchlike have become bedrock values. But there is no peace in such hollow, bitter, victories.

But Jesus came so that we might know peace. And there is no peace outside of forgiveness.

When will we ever learn?

Withdrawal of British troops from Kabul
England in Afghanistan – 1842

Why do we continue to fight the same wars over and over again? Because we fail to understand the essential principles of Christ’s teachings. Why do we remain mired in conflict? Because we are more concerned with exposing other people’s sin than our own. Why do so many relationships fall apart? Because we fail to practice the essential principles of Christ’s teachings.

I listened to an army general on a news show recently. He’s responsible for Afghanistan. He actually said, “this time we’re going to do it right.” I was instantly interested. But no, it was nothing new – his plan is to engage, kill, and defeat Taliban and other terrorist fighters; but this time he’s going to really kill and defeat them!

Back in the early 1840’s British forces felt they could subdue waring factions in Afghanistan via military action – engage, kill, defeat. Since then and over 175 years, a series of world powers have tried the same kind of intervention.

This is not rocket science, friends. Jesus wants to re-order our individual lives, our families, our communities, our churches, our world. The only way to peace is the way of forgiveness.

  • We fail to understand the essential principles of Christ’s teaching.
  • We fail to practice the essential principles of Christ’s teaching.
  • We fail to live the essential principles of Christ’s teaching.
  • Jesus wants to re-order our lives.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37

Peace, and more peace – DEREK

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