Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yoko Ono Proposes Forgiveness Day


Yoko Ono, widow of the late John Lennon, is declaring December 8, the anniversary of Lennon’s death, as a global day of forgiveness. “Every year let’s make December 8 the day to ask forgiveness from those who suffered the unsufferable,” wrote Ono in a full-page ad in Sunday’s edition of the New York Times. Ono asked for forgiveness from “people who lost loved ones without cause” and from “soldiers of all countries.”

Ono also wrote that she didn’t know if she could forgive Mark David Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon.

Truly forgiveness is one of the most powerful things that people can do. I’m an advocate for forgiving those who have wronged us and I recommend that we seek forgiveness of those we have wronged. Withholding forgiveness is one of the worst things that people can do. “Unforgiveness” is a prison. We are the only people hurt when we choose not to forgive others. Giving forgiveness is liberating.

However well intentioned Yoko Ono is I don’t think that her call for forgiveness will be very far reaching. I am a fan of the Beatles and I was deeply saddened when Lennon was killed. But John Lennon’s death is not the inspiration that can bring widespread forgiveness. Lennon’s death can’t even inspire his widow to forgive her husband’s killer.

There is a Person and there is a power that can inspire forgiveness and that is the life and death of Jesus Christ. In fact, one of the ways that you know that someone really is a Christian is that they have received power from Christ in order to forgive others.

Jesus told His followers, “I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.” (Matthew 5:44,46, NLT)

I know Christians who have received grace from Christ to forgive those who have raped them, betrayed and stole from them or killed their loved one. This is not excusing some annoyance but gut wrenching forgiveness for deeply painful losses and wounds.
Receiving the power to forgive others is reason enough to follow Jesus Christ. The act of forgiveness is enough to change your life. The Good News is that there is infinitely more blessing in knowing and living with Christ.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

how did those people actually go about forgiving the ones that hurt them?

What steps does one take to get there? Reading the Bible, praying, small groups, etc?

Scott Brewer said...

I have observed the "grace to forgive" coming upon people in different ways at different times.

Sometimes someone was given insight by God to see how broken the person was that hurt them. That it is "hurt" people who hurt people.

Sometimes a forgiver was simply reminded how much Christ had forgiven him and he was overwhelmed with the reality of "how can I not forgive when I have been forgiven so much."

Sometimes a person seemed to "hear" God in prayer command, "Forgive that person." As they chose to obey simultaneously grace to forgive came upon him to forgive.

In short let me just say, if you have a sense that you need to forgive someone then God is stirring you about that. It is not natural to us and Satan would certainly not stir someone to forgive. Therefore, cooperate with God and pray, "God, you want me to forgive and I don't want to. Touch and change my heart so that I can forgive."

I'd love to hear back from you how this interaction with God goes for you.

jill o said...

Scott -

Great post and I particularly agree with your statement that “unforgiveness” is a prison. If left unattended it is a slow decay of your heart. We all have issues around this and moving forward can be so difficult. What worked for me was praying with a trusted friend. I did it more than once and I still have to allow God to touch that part of my life from time to time. It takes courage and can seem overwhelming. Most of us have lived with unforgiveness for so long it becomes a strange comfort. To move away from that is scary. What lies on the other side is a sweet liberation and freedom. My encouragement to Anonymous would be to lean into God's grace and surrender it all. Experience God's sweet, tender touch.

Scott Brewer said...

Jill:

"Unforgiveness becomes a strange comfort" is an important insight. Thanks for highlighting that.

Sometimes we can't move toward forgiveness because in some broken way we "comfort" ourselves by rehearsing and replaying our resentments and hurt feelings.

Thanks for sharing some of your story.