This Week’s Faith Experiment – Forgiveness

For those of you who have been coming out to our Sunday Night Youth gatherings, you’ll know that for the past few weeks we’ve been working through a series called “The Faith Experiment” in which we talk about simple ways that we can experience God in our daily lives. Each week we have done a different “experiment” based on the teachings of Jesus that we can do to invite God to show how real he is to us. The past few weeks have brought about some great conversation and more importantly God has shown himself in our prayers for others and our investing in those around us!

This past Sunday we talked about forgiveness. Why do we forgive and how do we do it?

We discussed about how we as believers have been forgiven by God of so much and we are to be imitators of Jesus in this forgiveness. We are to strive to love how Jesus loves. Also, when we realize how much we’ve been forgiven it increases our capacity to forgive!

We also talked about how unforgiveness can take a very negative toll on us when we choose to hold grudges. “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

We also talked about how important it is for us to seek forgiveness if we do someone wrong. Jesus teaches in Matthew 5 that we are to strive to not have strained relationships.

Forgiveness is a very hard thing, especially when we’ve been especially hurt by someone. We discussed how a lot of times forgiveness has to be an ongoing process.

I wanted to follow up our conversation about forgiveness with a great example of forgiveness from the Bible. In my search I found this in story of the Prodigal Son.

Luke 15:11-32

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

The Father in this parable gives us such a beautiful example of what true forgiveness looks like and gave us a great picture of what God’s love looks like.

I’m sure when the younger son in this parable asked for his inheritance from his father and left to go make some poor choices in his life it deeply hurt his father. His father could have held anger in his heart toward the younger son. But look at how the father responds when the younger –  or prodigal son returns.

The father shows so much undeserved, extravagant love and mercy to the younger – or prodigal son. He throws a party! He treats his son that has returned like royalty! He didn’t care about the decisions his son made – his son was back!

This is much like how God has shown us love and mercy by allowing Jesus to die so that we could have relationship with Him. We are totally undeserving of this love that He has for us and he loves us so passionately that He would do anything so we could have relationship with Him! Jesus is illustrating this love when He is telling this parable.

In this parable we also get an example of unforgiveness in the older brother. The older brother was deeply offended by his younger brother when he took his share of the inheritance and left. When he saw the welcome that his younger brother received from his father he was so angry that totally refused to join the celebration! In this case, the older brother’s unforgiveness and self-righteous attitude kept him from experiencing the joy that was available to him in celebrating his younger brother’s return.

When we are done wrong or do others wrong. We are faced with a choice. To either to choose love or hate. To choose life or death. God is encouraging us to choose love! To choose life! He will empower us to do so if we ask!

So…this week’s Faith Experiment is to ask God to show you someone that you might need to forgive and to take some sort of action toward extending forgiveness toward them. This could look like lots of different things: a conversation, a letter that is sent or not sent, asking God for the strength to forgive the person that has done you wrong. Also, let’s ask God to show us if there is anyone we have done wrong that we need to ask for forgiveness from and take action toward asking for this forgiveness.

That’s it for me! Thank you to those who read my incredibly long blog.

Blessings to you all!

Lance Craig

Youth Director/Contemporary Worship Leader

Skyland UMC