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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Forgiveness: The Hardest Task in the World, But The Most Rewarding!

     There are so many so-called prophets of God running around with warnings that “The end is near! Repent! Now is the day of Salvation!”
     They make claims that they have been anointed by God with the spirit of prophecy (they think it means to predict future events that prove) that the world, as we know it, is coming to an end.
     They point to news items such as the raging conflicts in the Middle East, how radical Islamists are the greatest dangers in the world, which we have to make sure we help Israel with building the Third Temple, that Israel is God’s time piece that is clicking down, and Armageddon is right around the corner.
     They point to certain scripture in the Bible, citing the entire chapter of Matthew 24, as proof that we are living in the End Times. They say they can discern Bible prophecy as they read the newspapers, on television, about wars, rumors of wars, nations rising against other nations, famines, pestilence and earthquakes in diverse places. CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, all of them (according to them) are reporting the events spoken of in the books of Revelations and Daniel. It’s almost over folks! The end of the world!
     Guess what? We have had these Chicken Little’s with us, proclaiming the same thing, for over 250 years in this country, alone! It was the main chatter (no Twitters) during the Civil War, WW1, WW11, Korea, and Vietnam and most exhaustingly in Iraq and Afghanistan. 911 was our wake up call! America is doomed!
     Well, there may be more truth to those bellicose warnings than we may think; however, I more concerned about issues that we tiny human beings can deal with. Government leaders are going to do whatever they want and all the demonstrations and complaining (and voting) is not going to change the elitists, money-changers of the world from doing what they have done since the beginning of time.
     What these so-called self-appointed prophets seldom speak about is what concerns me the most, something that we can possibly control. I’m speaking of hating one another, being angry at others and not reaching out to our family, friends and colleagues in an everlasting, lovingly devoted manner.
     What these profits (I mean prophets) fail to point out (or put greater emphasis on) is what is discussed in verses 10 through 12, which says that many people will be offended and shall betray one another, and they will hate one another.
     The word offended in the Greek is skandalizo (where we get the word scandal), which literally means to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaphorically to offend, to entice to sin to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust, and to cause to fall away (actually) from the faith in God. To be offended by one, to see in another what we disapprove of, and to hinder one from acknowledging God’s authority, to cause one to judge unfavorably or unjustly of another, is causing an indignation as never before in the history of mankind. And since one who stumbles or whose foot gets entangled in the journey of life, and feels so annoyed enough to cause displeasure with others, that is the root and heart of the enmity that exists between brother and sister, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, friends and colleagues, and neighbors to the left or the right of us, building up a rage that can only be dissipated with forgiveness, patience and love.
     Dealing with the issue of forgiveness is not beyond our pay grade, one that may be difficult to curtail if not outright end through the love inherent within all of us, each and every one of us.
     I am still of the opinion that the incessant wrangling between the Left and the Right, liberals or conservatives, those differing in which ideology will best cure all of mankind’s ills, such as humanism, Capitalism Marxism, Bolshevism, nationalism, socialism, communism and all of the other isms defining an untold variety of governing philosophies, are much more about mankind believing it can create its own utopia. In reality, to paraphrase what Jonah Goldberg has stated in his epiphanous and illuminating tome (Liberal Fascism), all the varying isms throughout history are in reality mankind’s religious awakening in which God and Christianity were to be either sloughed off and replaced or “updated” by the new progressive faith in man’s ability to perfect the world.
     I’m sorry, mankind can’t do it!
     Yet, the order of the day is this point and that point against this point and that point to the point of ad nauseam infinitum not realizing that only God can perfect humanity, and this will not be realized until Jesus Christ returns to rule and rein His administration, on earth, for eternity.
     Yet, instead of coming together, reaching out to others with love, men and women have turned turn away from the faith; they are betraying and hating each other like no time in history before. Those fanning the flames include many false prophets, claiming to have greater insights to solving mankind’s problems more so than God and His will for mankind. They are deceiving many people about what is right or wrong. They have heaped upon themselves a self righteousness that goes contrary to God’s will. They have become judges, critics, finger-pointers, lawgivers and enactors of moral codes, never realizing they are just as guilty of sin as everyone else in the world. And many of these self-proclaimed prophets do not come solely from the ranks of the Church; they include elected officials, captains of industry, intellectuals and philosophers, and thousands more with opinions of their own they know not where they come from. And because of the chaos they create, the increase of wickedness prevails like no other time in history, and the love of most of mankind has grown cold.
     On a personal level, we look around at each other, afraid to speak, scared to reach out for fear of experiencing rejection, holding grudges that go back so far we can’t even remember what caused the schism, jealous of others who appear to have more than we do, angry at the boss and/or our co-workers, upset because spouses don’t express the love they used when they courted, upset because their children didn’t live up to their expectations, children’s spirits broken because they felt betrayed or abandoned by their parents, their friends, faces becoming chagrined when they look in the mirror and see that beauty truly does fade, muscles aching from taking to many blows from working harder than others, angry and sullen because they reject our ethnicities and our culture, emblazoned with acrimony over so much injustice.
     But it doesn’t have to be that way!
     I remember when I first decided to follow Christ, back in 1975. A preacher told his audience that “forgiveness” is the beginning of all healing! He said that we should reach out to others and tell them that if we have hurt them to please forgive us. His little sermon inspired me to go visit my father, of whom my mother divorced 25 years earlier, due to infidelity, and I had not seen him in over fifteen years.   
     As I drove 150 miles to visit him, I softly asked myself,“Why should I ask him to forgive me?” I guess I still held much resentment over my parents breaking up, and didn’t realize it.
     When we met, I hugged him (to his surprise) and handed him an album I had put together of photos and news clippings of my career. I looked at him and said that if I have ever hurt or offended him, I ask for his forgiveness. He looked at me strangely, patted my shoulder and said “Thanks.”
     After a few minutes of innocuous chatter, I drove off and went to visit some of my other relatives for the rest of the day. Before I headed back home that evening, I thought I would stop by and say hello to my grandmother, my father’s mother. When I got there to her house, she grabbed me and squeezed me real hard and kissed me on the cheek. She then turned to me and asked me what I had told my father. I repeated what I said to him, and she burst into tears.
     “Grandma, what happened?"
     She told me that my father had come over earlier that day and recounted our meeting; then she said my father fell at her knees and began sobbing like a little child. My grandma looked at me with tears running down her cheeks and spoke.
     “Mijto, your father cried and cried. He couldn’t stop crying,” she said, as her own tears continued to roll down her cheeks.
     “I have never seen your father like this. He looked into my eyes, and said that it is he that should have begged forgiveness, not you.”
     Tears also began to roll down my cheeks and I could feel the healing beginning, for both my father and me.
     Now I know what the pastor meant, when he said, “We need to be the first to ask for forgiveness!”
     My father and I met again about ten years later as he came over to visit my mother and the rest of my seven brothers and sisters. When we greeted each other, he smiled and gave me the biggest hug I had ever received from him. We looked at each other, both of our eyes slightly moist, and we didn’t have to say a word. We both smiled at each other, and said simultaneously, “Hey, when do we eat?” And we both burst out laughing at the same time.
     Well, we may not be able too solve the world’s problems, but there is a lot we can do to make this a better world. Let’s us always remember to say, “I’m Sorry.” First!
     Which reminds me of a singer from back in the 50’s who said it in song, better than I ever could. Her name is Brenda Lee, and a song that became her biggest hit, really says it all. Click it and read ~

By Brenda Lee

I'm sorry, so sorry
That I was such a fool
I didn't know
Love could be so cruel
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Uh, oh
Oh, yes

You tell me mistakes
Are part of being young
But that don't right
The wrong that's been done

Spoken:
(I'm sorry) I'm sorry
(So sorry) So sorry
Please accept my apology
But love is blind
And I was to blind to see
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Uh, oh
Oh, yes

You tell me mistakes
Are part of being young
But that don't right
The wrong that's been done
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Uh, oh
Oh, yes

I'm sorry, so sorry
Please accept my apology
But love was blind
And I was too blind to see
(Sorry)
-30-

Joe Ortiz is the author of two books that challenge Christian Zionism and the Left Behind, Pre-Tribulation Rapture mythology. He is also the first Mexican American to conduct a talk show on an English-language, commercial radio station, beginning in 1971 at KABC-AM, Los Angeles. For more information about this blog or the books written by the author, click here: Joe Ortiz
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