Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mother Valori's October article for The Shelby Star: Living Resurrection Life

I love the story of doubting Thomas found in the Gospel of John (20:21-31) because it goes straight to something most of us fear - our doubt. Yet we all experience doubt somewhere along the way on our Christian journey. The story of doubting Thomas gives us permission to doubt and Jesus’ response to Thomas gives us comfort that our own doubt won’t cast us away from our Savior, but will lead us to living the resurrection life he died to give us. Jesus doesn’t make Thomas feel bad for doubting. He allows Thomas to put his fingers in the crucifixion wounds, and he does so graciously.

Maybe Jesus responded tenderly to Thomas and the other disciples who doubted because they had important work to get to - Jesus was preparing to send the disciples out to continue his work of bringing in the kingdom of God. When Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit onto the disciples, he said: “If you forgive someone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain their sins, they are retained.”

Forgiveness interrupts the cycle of sin, and when the cycle of sin is interrupted the grace of God can heal and restore wholeness. Forgiveness is something God gives us first. God doesn’t wait until we deserve forgiveness (thank God!). God just forgives us. But, Jesus said, if you don’t forgive someone’s sins, then the cycle of sin is not interrupted, and the harm from the sin will continue to affect the generations that follow. We retain sin by withholding forgiveness, holding onto our righteous indignation. We retain sin when we reject forgiveness which is offered to us because we are afraid or too proud to own up to our sin. Whenever we retain sin we lose the opportunity to bring God’s healing and wholeness to the brokenness in our world.

We are called to live our lives as believers in the power of Jesus’ resurrection. If we believe, then we participate with Jesus, bringing his radical forgiveness into our world - our families, our communities, and beyond - so that the healing power of God can interrupt the cycle of harm caused by sin.

This kind of forgiveness is almost as hard to comprehend as the resurrection itself. But, just as Jesus was gracious with Thomas who doubted, Jesus will be gracious with us as we try to get this forgiveness thing right. Jesus knows how hard this is… He came to live as one of us and he forgave from the cross. Jesus also knows that we can’t do this on our own, that we can only do this by the power of his life-giving Spirit, so he gave it to us saying, “Do not doubt, but believe.” Believe and live in the power of the resurrection of Jesus! Believe…and forgive.

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