As Christians, we carry a message of hope, joy and love everywhere we go. CBC Trustee, Chris Cole challenges us to highlight the importance of forgiveness this Christmas, especially where God has given us a platform to reach many people via media.
I must admit that although I’ve been on planet earth for some time, I still feel relatively young at heart. Perhaps that is because I hang around Contemporary Christian Music and a younger generation. Young and old alike must make sense of life issues in these challenging times.
I remember how idealistic I was amid the mounting challenges the world seemed to be going through in my youthful days, especially in the 60s and 70s. My memories can fade with age, yet some can become more precious. I am older and sentimental enough to have been deeply impacted by the passing of Queen Elizabeth 11 and deeply aware that I will miss her Christmas Day broadcast and the sharing of her personal faith in Jesus Christ.
I was born the year she was crowned Queen and have always admired her sense of duty to her vocation and the courage with which she bore her own personal ups and downs in life, especially family life. It is often said the Christmas Season can be a trying process for families coming together, when old grudges and broken relationships are experienced. “Aunty Joan just can’t stand the husband that her sister married 30 years ago because she was offended by something he said at the wedding”.
One of my favourite parables from Jesus is quoted in Matthew 18:21-35. It is the story of the unmerciful servant who had been forgiven a billion pounds by his master (who represents God in the parable) but this same servant took offence at another who could not repay him a debt of about £20 and he wouldn’t let it go in forgiveness. The end of the parable is that this unforgiving servant ended up in a worse prison of their own choosing.
One person said that the bitterness of unforgiveness is like taking poison whilst you’re waiting for the other person to die. Jesus Christ’s birth was to show and demonstrate by example the goodness of God and His death and resurrection was to open the door for us to come to find the Father and find deep and genuine freedom from our broken and sinful hearts and actions.
Forgiveness this Christmas
The late Queen carried the burden of knowing more about the world than her 15 Prime Ministers, Armed Forces and Secret Service all put together in the 70 years she was sovereign. As a human being she went through all sorts of pain; family breakups and massive pressure, but every Christmas shared that her anchor and foundation was in her personal, experiential relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the best gift for the world right now!
The Persecuted Church can teach us something in the West. That is that they have learned to pray, forgive, and love their enemies within their persecution. For us, in the West, it is a challenge to love our families before we can progress to those who spitefully abuse us. This Christmas Season and into 2023, may I respectfully and humbly suggest that we all try and go the extra mile in kindness, forgiveness and courage towards others – we may be surprised how things turn out.
This post originally appeared in the Cross Rhythms Experience column of the Plymouth Chronicle. Listen to Chris on Cross Rhythms. He and his wife Kerry host the Cross Rhythms Experience radio series each Sunday on the network.