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The Peace of Christ (3): You Are Forgiven

. 6 min read

2014/08/17 
Call
to Worship, Psalm 32
Children,
Luke 7.36-50
Message,
1 John 1.5 – 2.2
1st
week: “Peace be with you.” Giving up our identity as victim, one whose
innocence was stolen, or even as perpetrator. Love is the path to innocence.
2nd
week: Reconciliation among unequals, particularly with the dynamics of power
and violence: Tyler Perry on forgiveness, from GLS 2014
Bill Hybels: One of the best things I have ever read about
forgiveness came from a theologian named Tyler Perry: “It takes an enormous
amount of energy to get through abuse or betrayal, and it also takes the same
amount of energy to forgive. You can’t just flip a switch.”
TP: In order to forgive my father,
it took a very long time. I was connected to my anger, it was my fuel. Once I
forgave him, the fuel didn’t work anymore. You give up the hope of that past
ever being any different, but it is the most freeing thing you can do for
yourself. Most of the time, the person you have not forgiven is living their
life and probably has no idea what you are struggling with. They do not deserve
to have that power over you, and you do not deserve to live that way.
Today,
the internal dimension of reconciliation.
James
4:1 – Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they
not come from your cravings that are at war within you?
[My
history with this verse]

Sometimes,
we are the problem. We’d prefer to place the blame on someone else, on the
situation. But, if we’re feeling conflicted it is likely that the conflict is
internal, not external.
I’ll
never do that again.
That
was stupid.
I
can’t believe I’m such a …
      I hate when I do that.
      Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without
‘em.
Erica
Ariel Fox, GLS 2014, Winning from Within
(when You are the prob)
Steven
Johnson, “When we look at your brains, we realize that each one of you is more
like an orchestra than a soloist”.
Our
inner orchestra, out of tune with each other, arguing.
No
wonder it is so hard for us to deal with conflict – we are conflicted. So,
we’ll avoid conflict like the plague, creating an invisible gulf between us and
others filled with conversational topics we just can’t discuss – and the gulf
only becomes larger and larger – until it is far too visible. Or we’ll barge in
to the conflict and steamroll people that we love, people who love us. But it
will be their fault, not our responsibility. If we were rude or aggressive,
that is only because they made us feel that way. The possibility that we could
own our own feelings and govern our own reactions? We don’t go there. We remain
conflicted.
      And, no wonder it is so hard for us to
experience forgiveness. On the one hand, we are our own worst critics. On the
other hand, we are so defensive that even a mild critique becomes the occasion
for self-loathing and angry reactions.
      No wonder that in our conflicted state, we
feel as if we cannot see our way forward, cannot solve our problems, cannot
advocate for ourselves, cannot accept ourselves. We are operating in dark and
dangerous territory.
And
John invites us to a totally new place, a new “zone”. Instead of darkness, he
invites us to step into the light. It is John’s solution to the conflicted life
described by James. It is John conducting orchestral harmony. It is
reconciliation for the soul.
      Here’s what we need, according to John: A
place where we can speak the truth, and be safe doing it. It’s genius. It’s
what conflict and negotiation theorists like the famous Harvard Negotiation
Project have been studying and teaching in recent decades, but it is nothing
new. Not, at least, if we listen carefully to what John is saying.
      From the earliest age, we teach children
that telling the truth is dangerous, not safe (see also GLS, Joseph Grenney) –
even in our own home. “Were you the one who forgot to put the cereal away?”
“Did you forget to flush the toilet?” It’s not calculus or rocket science. If I
say “yes”, dad is mad and I’m in trouble. If I say “no”, dad is just puzzled. Most
of human reasoning is actually emotional in nature. We fail to pay attention to
the long term impact of our lies when, for a small lie, we can have peace in a
relationship now. It would be much easier if we created a safe zone that was
ALSO a truth zone.
That’s
exactly what Jesus has done. John confronts us with the brutal truth that “if
we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”
(1 John 1.8). And he invites us to confess our sin, to tell the truth. And,
this truth zone is also a safe zone. “If we walk in the light as he himself is
in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his
Son cleanses us from all sin” (1.7).
      This truth zone – a place of light where
we can see where we are going, where our conflicted selves move forward with
inner harmony, confidence, and hope (more or less, in our imperfect world). . .
.  This truth zone is a safe zone with
two indispensable gifts:
First,
fellowship with each other. In Jesus’ truth zone, speaking truth does not
separate us from each other. It is lies that do that. But speaking truth – even
when it involves confessing sin, admitting the ways that we are the problem –
speaking truth actually connects us with those who love us. We fear being
vulnerable. It does not feel safe. But in the truth zone of Jesus we have
safety guaranteed – fellowship with each other.
      The second gift of this safe zone is
forgiveness, forgiveness “from all sin”. “Blessed are those whose transgression
is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32.1).
Most
of us are carrying a few things for which we haven’t been able to forgive
ourselves. We know we’re the problem. We know we’re conflicted. We know we’re
operating in the dark. We know these burdens shape and fill a gulf, a great
pit, between us and those we love. But we have never found the truth zone that
was also a safe zone.
      We fear confession, because it is does not
seem safe. It puts us at risk. It makes us vulnerable. Everyone wants to know
whose fault it is – and, once we confess, we’ve answered that question for
everyone.
      Somehow, the woman kneeling and weeping at
the feet of Jesus (Luke 7.36-50) has found that truth zone that is also a safe
zone. She was not safe from the judgment of Simon, but she is safe before Jesus,
safe to bring her secrets, safe to bring her tears. He knows the truth and he
proclaims, “You are forgiven.”
      Maybe, as much as you desire it, you have
not found the truth zone that is also a safe zone. Until now. John uses the
word “confess” and invites you to take the leap. It is scary. “Confess” is a
word for “tell the truth about” something – in this case, about how we are the
problem, about our sin. James uses the same language at the end of his letter:
“Anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to
one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (James
5.15-16).
      If you recognize your conflicted self and
desire reconciliation for your soul, if you hear the promise of fellowship and
forgiveness and crave that safe zone, if you know yourself to be in the dark
and desire the light of God’s truth, I urge you to confess your sin today.
First,
confess to God. Perhaps you will want to come to the altar, kneel or stand, and
make your confession. Perhaps you will kneel in your pew. Make your confession.
Speak words in your soul and bring the truth before our God who promises
forgiveness and fellowship.
      Second, seek a safe person to confess
with. For me, that has often been Robin. She has created a safe zone for me to
be true – and helped me enter the forgiveness and fellowship Jesus offers.
Resources:
Global
Leadership Summit 2014, personal notes

      Willowcreek.com/summit