The stories we tell one another bring us together. They unite us. Around shared experiences, around shared values, around shared perspectives.
Stories about being hurt and seeking revenge resonate with each of us. Because we all know the lust of revenge. Enter Revenge, a popular drama on ABC, loosely following the plot line of the classic novel, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. As the victim of great injustice, Emily Thorne gets to choose between forgiveness and revenge every day. And her choice facilitates the drama of the show (as seen by the trailer below). But as the show also expresses, the lust of revenge is toxic.
Warning: The following video introduces a television show on ABC that is rated TV-14. Content in trailer reflects this rating.
Last night at Crash, we began a series called Toxic. The series title comes out of a quote by Anne Lammott who said, “Refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
The fundamental idea of this series is forgiven people can forgive. I believe God forgives us in Jesus and enables us to forgive others. As we studied the Parable of the Unmerciful Servan from Matthew 18, we recognized that our ability to give forgiveness is connected to the depth of our received forgiveness. And conversely, our inability to receive forgiveness will result in our inability to give forgiveness.
We established a definition of forgiveness last night, as well. Forgiveness is giving up my pursuit of revenge and trusting God to bring justice. For many of us, our inability to forgive is connected to our struggle to trust God with the offender, to bring justice as He knows best. We might not have the courage or insight to say we don’t trust God, but that’s why we won’t go there.
I began this series praying for God to do powerful things in the hearts of people. I already heard one powerful story from yesterday from a woman who has attended Crash off and on for several years. Yesterday, just a few hours before she came to Crash, an old boyfriend from college reached out to her on Facebook. They haven’t spoken to or seen each other in 18 years. He wrote her a message about wanting to apologize for the way he treated her back then. Apparently, he used to get pretty physically abusive with her in their relationship.
She told him that she forgave him long ago but that it wouldn’t be appropriate to be friends now. After not attending Crash for a while, last night was her first night back and the message became extremely relevant to this situation she is in. Frankly, a “God moment” like that is the kind of moment we pray for and it is incredible to see God move like that in the first night of a series.
If you missed the service last night, you can grab the podcast here beginning Tuesday afternoon (the most recent podcast, currently labeled Toxic Week 1 is actually my talk on The Indispensable Church from New Years Day). Toxic continues throughout the month of January on Sunday nights at 6pm. We would love for you to join us.