Jun 28, 2009 2:06 AM
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
The world where we are living today is a world full of God’s love. However this doesn’t mean that we are free from bad things that are happening in the world. We are nothing but imperfect God’s creature, thus in our life we will experience being hurt or even hurting someone else. This hurt that we have experienced often creates conflict among us and separates us from each other.
There are several ways that we can do to heal the hurt. In dealing with hurt, some choose the way of violence; running away from the problem; pretend that the problem doesn’t exist; or the way of reconciliation. Reconciliation is a condition where we are back to the situation of peace with the other. Now what would you choose? Today we are talking about choosing the path of reconciliation. How can we do it? In order to truly reconcile we will have to choose the way of forgiveness. We will now explore what is forgiveness.
Based on our reading, after Peter heard Jesus’ explanation on the ways of giving advice to brothers and sisters in Christ (Mat. 18:15-20), he asked how many times should we forgive our brothers and sisters if he/she hurt us. Peter asked, “Seven times?” This question is normal because at that time Jewish religion allowed someone to be forgiven for a maximum 3 times (See Amos 2:6; Job 33:29). Thus, Peter was thinking that raising the maximum forgiveness up to 100% should be enough. Nevertheless, Jesus said that it is not enough because the maximum number of forgiveness is seventy times seven (NIV says seventy seven times, but the Indonesian translation is more correct).
Jesus then compared forgiveness with the story of a king who abolished the debt of his servant. His servant owed him 10,000 talents (which was a lot of money at that time: in Attic currency it is 7,5 million US$ or in Jewish currency it is much more). It means that the king released all his servant’s debts for free. Forgiveness here means the release of guilt and debt. It is a gift given freely without any compensation.
However, after the abolition of his debt, the very same servant then went outside and met his colleague who owed him 100 denarii. Because of this small amount of debt he choked and threw his colleague into prison. In an instance, he forgot that he was just released out of his debt which was thousand times more. The king who heard the story became angry and punished him, not because of his previous 10,000 talents debt, but because he was not willing to release his colleague’s debt.
This is a characteristic of forgiveness. We forgive because we have been forgiven (The Lord’s Prayer says, “forgive our debts as we forgive those who debt against us.”). Forgiveness is a reflection of God’s love towards human. Because it is a gift, then human must also share this gift to others. People who have been forgiven should have the ability to forgive. Forgiven people have felt how it feels to be released out of debt, therefore they should do the same.
Forgiveness is a social action because it takes both sides in doing it: victims and perpetrators. We need both sides to have a true and full forgiveness. Let’s say that forgiveness is a gift. Lester posted a gift towards Rhein. The gift has been posted, it has been sent by the post office. The gift arrives at Rhein’s place, but he decided not to open it because he doesn’t like Lester. This means, Lester has sent the gift. The gift has arrived. Rhein does not accept it. The process of forgiveness can also be described like the story above. Lester may have felt that he has done his part, but the truth is the gift was never taken. It is not fully complete. Jesus said that we have to do it seventy times seven. This shows that we have to send (or at least try to send) the gift as much as possible.
Two things happened when we offer forgiveness. When Lester offers forgiveness to Rhein, it means that he is saying that Rhein is guilty but he is willing to forgive him. It is accusation and redemption at the same time. Thus, Rhein can also refuses the offer because he thinks that he did nothing wrong. This is the situation where forgiveness cannot be done fully.
In the process of healing wounds and hurt of the past, we need forgiveness in order to be able to reconcile. But this is often easier said than done. This is the story that we are going to explore tonight.
1. According to your own creative opinion, why did the servant who was granted the abolition of his debt did not want to release his colleague’s debt?
2. Please share an experience of the past hurt that you think is still irreconcilable up to this moment. Why is it difficult to forgive?
3. What is the encouraging or maybe problematic question/insight from this story of forgiveness in your daily life?
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