May 07, 2007

Mark 11.22-26 (Not sure when I'll be back to computer...)

And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God.

"Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

"And wherever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."

3 Comments:

At 5:21 AM, Blogger david said...

And wherever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

This stands along side the other formulation of this same instruction:

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

Echoed also in Paul's letter to the Romans 12:14: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Clearly this instruction is well attested. The Pauline and Synoptic traditions both support it.

We are called to treat people, not as they deserve but with grace, and not for their sake (alone) but for the sake of our own spiritual welfare and our own relationship with God.

Not an easy teaching at times. But when I have been able to do so, I have seen powerful things happen. To prayer for someone's well-being who has hurt you, even when you do not want their well-being -- is to place yourself in a place where you can become open to wanting their well-being. And I have felt the inward shift, physically within my body at such times -- where I forgave after I asked God to bless them.

In my experience, some ground rules seem needed. First - don't pray that they see the error of their ways -- almost always this increases the anger and resentment. Instead ask that they be given their heart's desires, they be given health and prosperity, the love of their friends. Ask not that they be limited in their ability to hurt others, but ask that they be happy. Second - I find a period of contemplative prayer or waiting worship is almost always needed before and often after the prayer. This cannot be done perfunctorily.

Thirdly, be prepared for the hatred and resentment to return again. An hour later or a day later something will recall the hurt. And you will need to bless them all over again. and to pray God gives you the strength to forgive as God wills you to.

 
At 6:21 PM, Blogger forrest said...

Not only "well-attested," but any Jesus who didn't say that just wouldn't be our guy.

When we talk about treating people "not as they deserve" we're already starting from the wrong page. We "deserve" nothing but good--and yes, that's the very phenomenon we call "grace" when it happens. Grace is God's normal behavior--while our ideas of "what we deserve" come from our finite fears of some harm that we or other people might do. Not to deny that I've done things myself that make me cringe today--but nothing we do or suffer here can damage us beyond God's power to fix.

If anything we do makes us feel undeserving, if it's anything that "should" make us feel that way, that very condition is not merely a crime; it's an affliction. We think, "That Bush person sure is getting away with a lot!" But we wouldn't want to be deluded or dangerously psychopathic ourselves, not even if we could be perfectly happy that way. When you say, "Don't pray that they see the error of their ways"--I think you mean, "Don't imagine that all the error is theirs." But don't you and I want to see the error of our own ways? Maybe not right now, all our errors at once in all their embarrassing bounty... but we'd rather see them at a pace that allows us to deal with them, rather than cause unnecessary harm.

Forgiveness is natural when you aren't afraid of people and don't think they're intrinsically different from you.

But we aren't criminally psychopathic tyrants, are we? No, we are potentially criminally psychopathic tyrants. Grace intervened; our childhoods weren't that damaging; people came along when we were being clueless and pointed us toward a better direction, rather than a worse one. When you think of how much our culture is steeped in propaganda for the notion of "good" violence, it's some kind of miracle we aren't crazier. "Grace," we call it. But isn't that how we expect God to treat us, so far as we can benefit from it?

Hmmmm. So why, then, is this plea that we forgive each other placed right here--in the midst of a passage on God's power and willingness to grant whatever we truly wish?

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger david said...

So why, then, is this plea that we forgive each other placed right here--in the midst of a passage on God's power and willingness to grant whatever we truly wish?

Because its God's desire for us that we only want the best for those trying to kill us. And to helpus avoid the mental judo (love that!) where I forgive -- but not really - but I forgive you so I cna be morally superior to you.

 

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