Thursday, August 18, 2011

Forgiveness and the Treatment of God

Look at forgiveness from a Biblical perspective and you realize quickly that it's a theological discussion. The word "theology" seems like the same thing as "religious" but this is not true. Most religions make no room for forgiveness. Karma is the force at work in most religious frameworks. You get what you deserve. The universe pays you back for what you did whether righteous or evil. In the end, one is weighed against the other. The majority of us put our faith in this kind of a system whether we profess to or not. And nine out of ten people, by the way, will tell you that his or her own good deeds weigh much more than the evil. Everyone personally absolves himself of owing anything for their sins and can compile a long list of other people whose sins far outweigh their good deeds. I'm just saying. That's how most religious discussions go.
Theology doesn't mean religion. "Theos" is Greek for God. (What I mean by "Greek for God," is not "Zeus who dwells on Mt. Olympus with his wife Hera because now we've circled back to religion again - besides, Zeus means thunderer which is scary and unforgiving.) The meaning of "ology" in the most simple of terms is "treatment of." So theology means "treatment of or study of God. There were many gods in Greek mythology, but Theos was the uncreated creator so this was the Greek word used for the God of the New Testament.
Theology and forgiveness are constantly on my mind. My treatment of God and my conflicted emotions and the logic of forgiveness form a powerful trinity of co-existing forces wreaking havoc in my mind and spirit. I remember early on when we first brought Allie home from the hospital every move or adjustment of her battered little body cause excruciating pain.
"Do You SEE this? Do You see that she's only a BABY??!! I screamed at God Who I came to the conclusion had abandoned us and left us with this damaged little baby.
When these wounds were still fresh, twice my daughter called asking why she should continue to live. She cried and asked me how she could go on? All I could do is swear that I loved her and that God was real and He had a plan (although in my own mind I couldn't figure out how it could possibly be a good one) and how could she possibly expect me to endure the loss of her life on top of trading a healthy granddaughter for a hopelessly, helpless, handicapped little girl that we have to care for the rest of our lives. How could we endure this?
Now that life is normalized and become routine these four years into it, we love our lives with Allie at the center. But recently we learned of the leniency of a judge's sentence on the crime of the person who inflicted upon his own flesh and blood with a lifetime of living in a handicapped body. This is what I wrestle with as I work through theology and the logic of forgiveness. What follows is a discussion that took place on my blog at a time in my life when I felt somewhat duplicitous. I was in despair but I was trying to keep on my game face for those faithfully praying while I was faithless and hopeless.
Bishopdave said... "Biblically speaking, it seems the Lord has a lot of trouble with those who won't confess. Cain wouldn't fess up and admit his need, even before killing his bro. As long as Allie's dad is in denial, there is a denial of grace. If we confess our sins... Bryon, I believe you will find the grace and strength to forgive when he is ready to ask for it; when he realizes he needs it. Hang in there."
Jody said... I am praying that Timmy will come to a point of brokenness which will lead him to the Lord and to seek forgiveness. I pray for your family too that when that moment comes, you will find yourselves (by the grace of God) able and willing to forgive him. It's a journey for both sides. I think praying (as you do) for Timmy is an unbelievably huge step. Furthermore, just as God stands ready to forgive us when we come with a repentant heart, I believe that you and Susan can say that if Timmy came to you today, broken over his sin and with an attitude of humility, the Holy Spirit in you two would rise up and fill your hearts with true forgiveness. I John 1:8-10 "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."
Michele P said... This reminds me of an Angel Tree phone call I made several years ago. I was calling a care giver to make sure they were OK with the child they were caring for receiving Christmas gifts from their father who was in prison. The woman answered and said to me, "He shot my daughter, you know." This woman was caring for her grandson because her son-in-law had killed her daughter. Now the son-in-law was going to church in prison and wanted to send a Christmas gift to his child. This was the first contact the son in law had attempted. I was speechless, but the Holy Spirit interceded and gave me the words to say to this woman. She was a Christian and through the power of Jesus Christ was able to forgive this man on the phone that day and she allowed her grandson to receive the gift. Her forgiveness made an unbelievable impact on me.
Luann said... It's so hard to know what one would do until they are in that position. Just remember that forgiveness is not only for Timmy, it's to release you as well from those bad feelings inside. And to forgive in that way does not necessarily require repentance or confession. Having said that, I don't know if I could do it, so I will just keep praying for you.
Kat said... Okay, my two cents: I think you and your family are entitled to be very, very angry. Even given that you all love the Lord, you are still allowed to be angry at all that has happened. It really irritates me when folk jump in and say "forgive" when it hasn't been that long ago that this sweet little girl got nearly shaken to death. Without knowing you personally, Bryon, I'm sure that if YOU decide to "forgive" this animal (sorry), you'll KNOW when you're ready. You all are incredibly wonderful people who I hold in high esteem. In my humble opinion, you're already doing what God wants you to do!
And then Charity and I had this interaction on my blog:
Art/terrorist said... I told Timmy it's not my forgiveness nor yours that he needs to seek.
Bryon Mondok said... Art/terrorist: True enough... Psalm 51:4 says "...against You only have I sinned..." The thoughts I've expressed here are from my very limited and earthly perspective...
This discussion started as a theological discussion of forgiveness and the treatment of God. And that's where it ends. Ultimately every offender will face God. How I treat forgiveness is how I treat God.

Related links

  • Forgiveness and the Treatment of God

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