Rev. Brian Johnson
Scripture: Luke 15:11-32; Romans 12:18-21; Proverbs 25:21-22
This story seems impossible – how can anyone forgive so powerfully as the father forgives in this story? The story reminds us of two things: first, God’s love is more radical, grace-filled, and forgiving than we can imagine. Second, we are invited to practice radical forgiveness. This doesn’t mean letting people walk all over us or allowing ourselves to be abused (talk about boundaries, saying no, walking away, keeping yourself safe) – it does mean that, once we have protected ourselves, we can release ourselves from having to hate or plot revenge. We can trust that vengeance belongs to God – that God is the arbiter of justice, that God protects us. Also, note how Paul describes the power of forgiveness – we don’t have to like a person – Paul seems to take glee in keeping those who abuse him from having power over him. In this sense, forgiveness is NOT saying that bad things people did to us – or to someone else – is OK. It’s saying “I’m not going to let you keep controlling how you feel” – it’s about releasing ourselves as much as releasing others from the power of what has been done to us.