Defined but DEADLY

Just because a word is in the dictionary doesn’t mean it’s safe to use it ...
Buzz words, the fashionable vocabulary of current affairs and celebrity gossip – for all their temporary value – often deserve more than a casual glance, if only because they signal the mood of the crowd. Such a word is ‘unforgiveable’ .
Those of us who follow the media trail in an effort to keep up with ‘everything about everything’ will be overly familiar with the word ‘unforgiveable’ . These days it enjoys a universal media presence and is routinely applied by journalists and politicians to the ‘villains’ of their peace from North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn – whether their crimes be mass murder or mass disappointment…
Many other labels might fit just as well: ‘inexcusable’ , ‘monstrous’ , ‘barbaric’ , ‘criminal’ or, for lesser offences ... ‘ill-considered’ , ‘illadvised’ and ‘opportunist’; but ‘unforgiveable’ – really? Strange how a world that fears terrorists and weapons of mass destruction has never learned to respect the most dangerous word in any language...

Dictionary danger

Dangerous, because it may be in our dictionaries, but it ought never to pass our lips. It’s the one part of the international lexicon where even angels fear to tread. It’s certainly not a word for mortal use. It really will prove to be a weapon of mass destruction to those who fail to respect it’s divine prerogative.
The Son of God said: ‘ ...if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins. (Mt 6:14-15) In fact, this grim statement was His follow-on thought as He concluded the “disciples’ prayer” with: ‘ ...and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” . In
Jesus’ singularly joined-up mind, it’s pointless to pray for deliverance from Satan if we are refusing to forgive a fellow mortal – because unforgiveness delivers us to Satan, not from him! If we persist in accusation, we should not be surprised one day to discover that we have become perfectly (and permanently) fitted to the Accuser’s domain.
Of course, this raises impassioned questions about the value of victims’ lives and the inappropriateness of forgiveness for the most horrific crimes. In 2006, one Christian community had to face these very questions – and their answers generated headlines all over the world...

Love’s reflex

At 8.45 one October morning, local milkman Carl Roberts and his wife walked their three children to the bus stop. By 11.15 he had taken hostages at an Amish community school in Pennsylvania, shot and killed 5 young girls, ages 6-13, maimed another five and then killed himself. His wife had returned home at 11.00 to find 4 suicide notes, one each for her and his children. It was widely reported at the time that members of the Amish community literally visited Roberts’ widow and family to comfort them on the very day of the killings. This in no-way diminished the trauma or excused the crime, but reflected the Amish conviction that bitterness must find no rooting place in believing hearts. And their forgiveness was real… Subsequently, the Amish set up two funds – one for the medical expenses of the Amish children... and the other for the children of Carl Roberts! In an open letter to the Amish, his widow said: ‘Your compassion... is changing our world... ’ This is one of the clearest examples of the power of forgiveness to affect the entire course of the future and protect all concerned from the destructive influence of our invisible but real common enemy: Satan.
When mortals evaluate some sins as ‘forgivable’ and designate others as ‘unforgivable’ they devalue the immense self-sacrifice of God’s Son whose Father, the Righteous Judge, “laid on him the iniquity of us all”. Calvary recognizes no double-jeopardy. Jesus paid the price in full for all of us. No further payment could be exacted without mockery to His full and final sacrifice. None of us who trust in His Cross will ever face a re-trial. God is just and the justifier of whoever has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26)
The writer to the Hebrews warns against the defiling power of bitterness: ‘See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.’ (Heb 12:15) In short, we are to be, unmistakably, ‘sons of our father in heaven’. (Mt 5:45)
God’s Word simply says that all sin is mortal – yours, mine and Kim Jong-Un’s… All sin is against God. (Ps 51:4) To choose God is to choose life (Deut 30:19-20). To reject God in any measure is to expose oneself to death. All sin is mortal – and all have sinned. (Rom 6:23; 3:23) All sin expresses independence from God; independence from LIFE – and the result is the same whether one is slightly or greatly independent of life!
The unforgiving are unforgiven – God’s rules, God’s justice. Without God’s grace, we condemn the future and chain it to the past. Had the Amish withheld forgiveness, headlines around the world would have applauded their ‘righteous indignation’, but Carl Roberts’ widow and children would never have seen God and some Amish kid might by now have wreaked a terrible revenge... John Lennon wishfully sang: Imagine there’s no heaven... Just imagine!
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