Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Modern Miracles: The Power of Forgiveness

The word “miracle” often conjures up images of fantastic unexplainable phenomenon being exercised in the world or someone’s personal life.  Many believe that a miracle must be a jaw dropping event that dwells in the unreasonable.  However, miracles in their most pure sense are simply events in which God intervenes.  These God interfering events can take place on any scale to the global impacting, to the almost insignificant.  A miracle can also have a logical explanation, people can point to other factors such as doctors, medicine, or even heroic action to why certain events took place, and yet, God’s hand can still be involved.  Anything logical or illogical; rational or irrational; supernatural or seemingly natural can be a miracle as long as God intervened to produce the outcome.

When Moses and the Israelites walked on dry ground through the Sea of Reeds (or traditionally the Red Sea) many people explained the event by utilizing tide changes, current, and wind.  Whatever happened on that fateful day God’s hand was intervening, and it was certainly miraculous.

So what do you suppose is the greatest modern miracle?  Where do you see the hand of God intervening in this world, your community, church, or your own personal life?  What miracle, or miracles do you see that have the power to truly transform the world?  What do we need to be healed from, or freed from the most?

I fully believe that the miracle to forgive is the greatest miracle that God has given to us today.  Forgiveness has so much potential power it can knock down divisive barriers, abolish devastating violence, and restructure our unstructured world.  The power of forgiveness through Jesus Christ is the only way we can experience true freedom and become who God created us to be.  This miraculous power of forgiveness, even though it begins with Jesus, does not end with him.  When Jesus was teaching in an overcrowd home (Matt. 9:1-8) a few men laboriously lifted their paralyzed friend to the roof of the house and began digging into the mudded ceiling.  After digging a substantial whole they lowered their friend down before Jesus.  When Jesus saw their faith he pronounced forgiveness on the paralyzed man much to the horror of the Pharisees who immediately judged Jesus guilty of blasphemy in their consciousness.’ Jesus knowing their thoughts, and wanting to demonstrate the power of God, then told the paralyzed man to stand up and walk.  The paralyzed man quickly stood up, took his mat and walked.  The scripture says the crowds were then amazed at the power God had given men.  But what exactly where the crowds amazed at?  Where they amazed that the man walked or were they amazed at something more?  Remember, Jesus performed the act to prove not that he could make a paralyzed man walk, but to prove that he could forgive sins.  The crowds were not so much amazed that the man walked, but that because the man walked the power of forgiveness was possible.

While the power of forgiveness begins with Jesus, it does not end with him.  Jesus shows that he is the Righteous One that forgive sins, and he passes that power to his disciple (John 20:23).  Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection show the power of the forgiveness of God and also the power we have to forgive others.  If we accept the power of the forgiveness of God, but we do not accept the power of forgiveness that God has given us to give to others, than we have severely missed the point (Matt. 6:9-18).

The miraculous power of forgiveness not only promises us the reward of eternal life, it also brings about much needed healing and peace.  Too often we have neglected the power of forgiveness.  After working a short six month internship as a chaplain at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, IL I quickly learned from my own experience and the experiences of the nurses, that many of our physical illness are caused by heavy guilt, depression, unresolved conflict, and buried hatred.  There are many General Practitioners who willingly admit that their patients are suffering physically due to something emotionally/spiritually (depending on their vocabulary).  What these patients are missing is the miraculous power of the declarative words “you are forgiven.”  These patients need either to hear these words and experience the real power of forgiveness that comes first through Jesus Christ and release their burden (Matt. 11:28-30), or they need to be able to say the words to someone else who needs to be released (Luke 17:3).

The world asks for signs and miracles, yet we have been given the greatest and most transforming of all miracles and we refuse to practice and acknowledge it.  Imagine the world where you truly experienced forgiveness for all wrongs, and your enemies experienced forgiveness from you.  Where would be guilt if we forgave, where would be hatred, violence, or even sickness?  Hear and experience the miraculous life changing words given to us by God the Father     “In the name of Jesus Christ you are forgiven.”

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