If one could put the past year into words how would you describe it? Its been quite a year! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much political upheaval, division and turmoil around the world. Our world appears to be in such a mess. Every day in the media we see people constantly harming others. We hear stories of shame, hurt, anger, revenge and death. The massive movement of people around the world – many of whom are being displaced from their homelands due to wars and persecution. It makes me wonder what have we done with our “respect” for humanity? What have we done with “love” and “dignity”? The rapid pace of events, the universal impact we are seeing – its been hard to keep up. Our world – being pushed to its limit like never before?
Someone recently asked me – “what is going on with the world? – there’s so much evil and darkness.” I’ve been thinking about that conversation ever since and how it ended with a reminder of the importance of keeping close to our heavenly father in these days – who knows exactly what is going on. Yet in the midst of it all theres a deepening burden growing for a world to understand who this Jesus is that we talk about, whom we worship, why He died for us and the reason He plans to come again. The urgency for Gods people to remain faithful – no matter what the cost and embrace these days of uncertainty by continually sharing stories of faith and hope that are changing our world and impacting so many peoples lives. Stories of restoration, peace and reconciliation. There is hope in the midst of the mess. There is beauty coming out from the ashes.
Over this past year there have been many conversations with people asking questions about this life. Many are living in fear and even experiencing the brutality of situations that are crippling not only humanity itself but their very own personal lives. What one small act of kindness could we bring to a hurting world that could change a life, a family, a community or a whole nation?
If I could put this past year into words, it would probably involve a journey of gaining a greater understanding of the heart of grace and forgiveness. Perhaps that one small act for us all – is to love, give and forgive more and let go of our offences. Revenge isn’t the answer to our worlds problems – love and forgiveness is. We need to talk more about forgiveness and less about revenge. We need to understand more about how to bring grace into a culture of guilt and shame. We need to understand more about the pathway of forgiveness, repentance, making peace with each other and taking the time that is needed to patiently wait for and pursue the opportunities for reconciliation. Only when we understand and know the pathway to forgiveness and reconciliation can we endeavour to outwork an act of forgiveness. If Jesus message was all about love, forgiveness and reconciliation – then there must be something of great significance in His message that we need to pay attention to for today.
Many of us give up too easily in our relationships and are too afraid to embrace honest conflict – to pursue forgiveness, peace and reconciliation. Some days I wish I knew then what I have learnt now -maybe I would have had more courage to pursue forgiveness and reconciliation because of the lasting impact it has on our own personal lives. Very often it doesn’t come to us – we actually need to pursue it and ask for the opportunity. It’s not an easy pathway to walk through. Yet forgiveness has the power to restore broken relationships, change lives, a whole community, a nation – even history itself. There is fruit that comes out of truly forgiving. Very often it does more in the heart of the forgiver. The way we forgive will be the way we are forgiven.
Did you know that the first recorded act of forgiveness in literature is found in the story of Joseph? Many scholars today believe this was a turning point in history. It’s one of my favourite stories and through the actions of Joseph’s brothers – what was meant to harm him and destroy his life – resulted in a man finding great favour, bringing change to a whole nation and even his own family – through an act of forgiveness.
As you reflect on the past year – how may acts of forgiveness have you outworked? How many opportunities have you simply let go of too soon and not pursued? May this year ahead be one of understanding more about what it means to be a peacemaker and see more walls that divide come crumbling down. In my next blog post I may share some more thoughts on forgiveness and why it’s so important for us to personally act and endeavour to pursue peace and reconciliation.