The Art of Forgiveness


"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:44-45

This Lenten season we've been looking at the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Along with that we're hosting an art exhibition, "The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness," which features a number of interpretations of the parable by different artists from different cultures and eras. One of the things that the collector, Larry Gerbens, said draws people to the collection is the rich themes of grace and forgiveness.

Grace and forgiveness are things we often consider during the Lenten season. In a staff meeting this week we were asked a question, what in our modern culture keeps people from embracing the truth of the Gospel. One of the first ideas that came to my mind was other Christians. Believers who claim to honor God but don't understand His message.

I'll never forget watching the news following the earthquake in Hati a few years back. I was struck by back-to-back interviews. The first was with Pat Robertson, acting as a spokesman for American Christians, talking about how the earthquake was punishment on the Haitian people for their godlessness. The second was with a Christian pastor in the nation who praised the name of God while leading a prayer service on the rubble that was his church. It was such a striking dichotomy, and a reminder that Christians can be the biggest enemy to the Gospel. Especially in times of unspeakable tragedy, it's important how we convey  the love of Christ.

Lent is a time when we often get stories meant to cause people to think about faith. "The Shack," based on a Christian novel, opened on Friday, March 3. It's a film that takes the idea of guilt, grief, loss and forgiveness to heart.

In the film the main character is bogged down by anger, and it's a poison to his ability to function. I love the saying that anger is like drinking poison and hoping it kills your enemy. It poisons you from the inside.

While we can debate some of the theology and merits of the film, the beauty of the story is the way it approaches the power of forgiveness, and its impact on lives. That's one of my favorite themes in film, and a crucial part of our faith journey.

During this Lenten season, when we consider all Christ sacrificed for us, it's only right that we consider what obstacles in our lives are holding us back, and how God is calling us to change our path.

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