“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
–Matthew 18:15-22 (ESV)
This is a unprecidented third “meditation” in one day, but I saw the accompanying photo on Facebook and it just fit. It’s been a tough week in the Messianic blogosphere and I’ve got the (virtual) bruises to prove it (It’s been a tough week anyway, but that’s beside the point). Most people who give me a hard time for my specific beliefs and their accompanying statements are actually really nice people who love God and want to do good to others. The vast majority of them, I consider my friends and for those who I’ve never met before, I’d love to get together over coffee or a beer and get to know you better. Most of them actually do perform deeds of lovingkindness and have extremely generous hearts.
Just a tiny few however, seem to have a tough time “letting go,” as if what I’m saying is a direct challenge to the doctrine of salvation and the grace of Jesus Christ. I’m not making any such challenge, but for some believers, any suggestion of change or deviation from the norm, particularly in the arena of supersessionism and anti-Jewish rhetoric, is to be feared and even shunned. I admit that there are moments when I want to snap back (more than I already do) but I don’t because I know it wouldn’t be the right thing. How can I exemplify the teachings of my Master if I allow myself to get caught up in the rapid volley, tennis match exchange of angry and upset comments?
Sometimes, along with everyone else, I get caught up in arguing all of the little minutia of religion; all of the arcane details that would make most Rabbis and Pastors go nuts and want to toss in the towel on the human race, but really, God is very simple.
At the end of the day, when you look back at who you are, who you claim to be, what you’ve done with your time, and how you’ve treated other people, you have to say to yourself, “Stop being a jerk and just forgive.” As someone commented on another of my blogs (this isn’t an exact quote), “it’s more important to do right than to be right.”
How can we enter a Shabbat’s rest with anger and frustration tying our hearts and souls into something that looks like a design by M.C. Escher? Let go. Tell the people who you love, “I love you.” Cup a small child’s face in the palm of your hand. Forget all the words and actions that have caused you pain. Remember what’s important.
If you’ve hurt me, I forgive you.
May God go with us all on our journey of faith.