Sunday, January 25, 2009

Forgiving your son's murderer

I've been thinking a lot about this over the past week since Robin Oake spoke at our church. I cannot begin to comprehend what it must be like to do that. I'm delighting in being a father and I love my son. What pain it must be to lose the one you love.

It's a sad fact that we are often hurt by the ones closest to us, we are more likely to be killed by a family member than a stranger, children more likely to suffer at the hands of a relative than someone they don't know. The most dangerous place for a child is their own home. It's a likely possibility then that forgiveness involves forgiving those we were once close to.

Yet God forgave His Son's killers. God is prepared not only to forgive but to love the ones responsible for His death. God not only sets the horrible guilt of causing the death of Jesus but then offers us a place at His table and in His home, because we, I, am responsible for His death.

It struck me like a brick to the head, that I must never forget that I am a cause, a reason, for the death of an innocent man. I am one of the reasons Jesus was crucified. Yet His Father has not just pretended this event never happened but in total awareness of it decided to forgive me. Can there be any other word than grace for such a thing?

This crashing realisation, made me realise afresh how much it grieves God's heart when I sin because that is why Christ died. How sad it must make the Father when after all this I return to my foolish ways and indulge in selfish desires. Perhaps this is why Paul exhorts us to know Christ and him crucified, so that we may put to death the old ways with its sinful desires and be alive to all that God is. He knows the further we stray from the cross, the more likely we are to justify ourselves, the more likely we are to go our own way, the more likely we are to call wrong - right. I do it so often, I make excuses for myself but each time it breaks the heart of the One who loves me and gave up His Son for me. We are called to be holy as He is holy.

I've never been quite so aware of the profound depth of love it must take for a Father to forgive those responsible for the death of a son.


Anonymous said...

It is one thing to forgive a murderer who has been brought to justice and has been convicted. It is quite another thing to BE FORCED to forgive a murderer when that person is pretending to be innocent and carrying on his life as if he did nothing wrong. You HAVE to remember that you cannot make such statements to victims of this crime when each case has different circumstances. If the person who murdered my stepson would admit his crime and turn himself in, then the forgiveness can begin. Until the process evolves to this point, forgiveness only is between the murderer and God. If I cannot at this point forgive this person, then God will have to deal with me on this issue. Please remember that people who have gone through this hell and do not get justice, DO NOT NEED PASTORS force this guilty feelings on us by telling us to forgive a murderer who murdered their family member. You JUST DONT UNDERSTAND until you walk in our shoes.

Phil on 13 March 2009 at 22:15 said...

Hi Anonymous, thank you for your comment and your honesty. I'm deeply sorry for your pain and loss. I'm certainly not trying to 'force' anyone to forgive or forcing guilty feelings on you.

Forgiveness, I think needs to be freely offered but that is the path God walked with those guilty of His Son's death, it is the path that Jesus taught. I can't see any alternative even though it is so hard. God promises to uphold us if we can hold on to Him in this.

I hope and pray you will find strength to forgive and the peace and relief that comes as a result.

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