Wow – time flies! Especially quickly it would seem when, almost daily, you think to yourself “I really must post more on my blog”… March to June with no posts! Let’s call it an impromptu sabbatical.
I woke, like many to the awful news about the attack at Finsbury Park last night. It’s very early days and easy to speculate wrongly. But it does look very much like an act of revenge for the other recent attacks in London and Manchester.
Revenge appeals very much to our base human instincts. It seems so right and fair when we have been wronged and yet is completely contrary to Jesus’ teaching. “An eye for an eye…2 is often quoted as Biblical precedent for revenge, yet (as so often) those misusing scripture have not looked at either the original context, or what Jesus taught later on.
In Matthew 5:38-40, Jesus said this:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.” (ESV)
It’s clear – we are called to be people who forgive. No matter how hard (and forgiveness is VERY hard) that it may be to do so.
Some of Jesus’ last words as he hung on the cross were,
“Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 (NLT)
Our Lord and Saviour forgave those who persecuted, tortured and murdered him. In light of that, who are we not to forgive those who we think have wronged us?
As ever, Jesus set the bar very high. So high that by our own strength we cannot hope to reach it. It’s only though the power of the Holy Spirit, God working in us and through us, that we can hope to become the people that Jesus intended we would.
Forgiving others is one of the hardest things that we will ever have to do. Because we are called to forgive, no matter what they have done.
But following Jesus is not an easy path to take. He never intended it to be.