by Immanuel Ebbie Francis
Is Jesus really being practical? Can His teachings be trusted with life and with its consequent practice? Is He downright apathetic to existential case points, by generalizing them with saintly ease without taking into consideration case-specific complexities? If so, why should anyone press hard to seek any absolutes from his teachings? Why should we follow His set of rules in a world that either has scant respect for them or seem to manipulate the letters to get its job done? These were a few questions which I pondered within the few years of my committal to become a practising Christian. I hope you had them too!
The idea of forgiving an offender seven times seven (Matt 18:21,22) in a world that is out to make the most of one’s goodness, just seemed illogical. Never did these questions become a kamikaze-reality than when my ship docked in the harbour of the practice of forgiveness. Nowhere did I feel the pinch or the classic remorse than it was at the time to forgive a repetitive offender. Nowhere did I feel used and manipulated than when I tried to practise Matthew 5:44, or Matthew 5:38-42 to a blatant abuser. And nowhere was I more unsure of myself and my decision making skills than when that offender said it’s time we bury the hatchet for good this time around.
What if a condition of domestic abuse persists in the life of a practising Christian and the abusing spouse keeps using that clause to get another chance while the victim has to keep enduring it? Is it still valid? I am sure there are many who have crossed this tenuous bridge in your walk with Christ, and what I propose here was not only a personal discovery of the mystery of forgiveness through my failed human experience, but also a near peckish nature of my curiosity and its voracious appetite to make sense of the near-to-impossible riddles and enigma.
This background of my blatant pessimism regarding this subject is the much needed murkiness to shine the pearl called Wisdom in the foreground. My failed marriage has a lot to do with this quality of darkness. The broken islets of trust, tattered wings of hope, and the chilling stab of supposed betrayal are things any couple should never be exposed to-EVER! But we living in dystopia cannot dream utopian dreams when the rug of faith is being pulled violently under our feet. The more one tried to be good matters got worse as the other proved the worst. The more one practised forgiveness the other made use of it to become a repetitive offender. We both have to be blamed. My mind is still fresh of the visions of cold stares at one another while sipping hot coffee during our morning family prayers. As the doomsday clock of our marriage hit the crescendo in 2007, and as hearts separated furthering their somatic distance, we could sense our soft innocence crumbling down to give birth to a pretty hard carapace. Walks to the family court do take a toll on your patience as it makes you ruthless and unforgiving in certain ways. Hopes of being a practising Christian can go down the drain in that heartless jungle of predators and supply-food. No chance of a comeback, No chance of resuscitation, No chance of revival. And it stayed that way till we could unlock the Mystery of Forgiveness, the power of Love and the reality of regeneration.
By the year 2017, all this bleakness faded, giving way to a path of reconciliation; the hard exterior was transformed into a warm and cozy interior. Many had quizzed us as we minister as a couple, ‘How can you guys get back to living a life after 13 years of animosity with 10 years of recorded separation?’ If no one else, at least the vicar who solemnized our reunion quizzed us in a state of hapless wonder. And coming under the umbrella of a wholesome Christian Family devoted to serving the LORD, we have made a note of the reasons why and the lessons learnt during the passage of time. We hope it makes sense to you in your specific condition.
- The ultimate purpose of life is not merely the attainment of a quality of life that is based solely on the satiation of our feelings, or measured only with the perspective of accomplishment. It is about allowing GOD to be the Grand weaver who weaves us in substance, character and interaction standards which conform to the image of the Son Romans 829. I know it is a concept too divorced from our current reality standards, but that is the truth. Once the mind is renewed by this Truth that we are not the centrepiece of reality, forgiving becomes divinely purposeful Matthew 545 and also mandatory Matthew 1835. Next time you are faced with forgiving the impossible, remember 2 Corinthians 318. The purpose of life is to be perfected as the Father in Heaven is perfect, and to attain the glory of resurrection in the image of the Son.
- ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ John 2118 . Jesus prophesying to Peter after his reinstitution to feed His sheep is a gentle reminder for every practising Christian: A forth-telling about a certain kind of death by which Peter was to glorify God. In certain levels, a death of our image, dignity, and rights thereof, is essential to practise forgiveness and to love unceasingly. Yes! Everyone has a dignity that dare not be crossed, but conformation starts with the death of the same. There can be no glory without the mandatory stations of Gethsemane and Calvary. What more than our will dying for the will of GOD by submitting to others?
- The virtue of forgiveness is the key to unlock the mysteries of the Kingdom; a kingdom that has its genesis in the mystery of Trinity. While I forgive an intentional perpetrator, I die in some level a death comparable to the Son on the Cross, I profess a love comparable to the Father who gave His only Son and I proclaim and demonstrate the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit that matures us from the Phileo-levels to the prima Agape level John 2115-17.
The list is not exhaustive owing to space but this is sufficient to shine that divine quotient in you as a great light to those sitting in darkness. I pray that we as the body of CHRIST understand this mystery of Forgiveness to the fullest and resurrect our innocence, from the bin of suspicion.
Immanuel Ebbie Francis is an RCCA alumnus and a Kingdom preacher and teacher by profession and an avid learner for life by passion