Photo by <a href=“[](”>Jacob Meyer</a>

The way of Jesus is not easy. One of my favorite quotes is from G.K. Chesterton who said,

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

To follow Jesus, to be a Christian, is decidedly hard. To follow Jesus demands us to stop focusing on ourselves. If we claim to follow Jesus, then we must become a people who are living after him and living according to “the Way.”

A central tenet of the Jesus way is forgiveness. Jesus said,

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

In Colossians 3 Paul echoes what Jesus says,

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

The Christian must forgive. It’s not an option. It’s not something we get to choose and decide that we don’t want to do that today. No, the call to forgive is an imperative, it’s a command.

Think about this for one moment. If you say you follow Jesus you are commanded to forgive.

Christian, how are you doing with this?

Now, before you set aside the command to forgive by saying, “Paul is only referring to other Christians,” let me stop you. Yes, Paul is being very explicit about the necessity to forgive other followers of Jesus. Clearly, we are failing at this. When our family history includes two schisms (East from West, and Catholic from Protestant) and countless local congregation splits, we have ample evidence of our need to recall Paul’s explicit command.

Beyond that, Jesus simply says, “others.” Paul is doing what many other writers in the Bible do. They take the global and broad scope laid out by God and make it more specific to help move the people of God down the road a bit. Or as Leo Marvin would say, “Baby steps.”

So, I ask again, how are you doing? Are you forgiving others as you’ve been forgiven? If not, I think it might be because we don’t fully realize the depth of our forgiveness. Check out this story that Jesus tells (from Luke 7),

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

One of the things that this story shows us is that if we understand the depth of our sin we will also understand the depth of the forgiveness that Jesus gives. This understanding drives us to love and forgive others in equal measure. Sadly, many of us do not forgive. We struggle to forgive our brothers and sisters, let alone those outside the faith.

How different would this world look if Christians engaged it with a posture of forgiveness?

What if we were more willing to forgive than to demand our rights?

What if we were a little more like Jesus? Remember what he prayed as he hung on the cross dying on behalf of his creation which had utterly rejected him (Luke 23:34),

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Behold our king! Even on the cross dying an unjust death offered forgiveness!

What about you? Will you forgive others?

About the Author
Daniel Rose is a husband, dad, and pastor of The Antioch Movement in Ypsilanti, MI. He writes at The Subversive Journey and you can can connect with him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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