YOUNG LIFE - COOL WITH COMRADES?
Bollywood churned out a movie based on the theme of friends, who fought and got together again, titled Jaane Tu...Jaane Na. MLTR - the Danish Music Troupe - has a moving song about friends who quarrelled. One friend says to the other, "This is where our journey ends - you are breaking my heart again!"
Hard-Feelings With Buddies?
Most young people have a problem here: the whole issue of relating with our peers (the people of our age group). As we rub shoulders with the guys and girls in our Schools, Colleges or Workspots, the sparks invariably fly, and cold wars are common place. Hard feelings with friends don't come hardly - they come often. Frequently, we aren't cool with our comrades - we are cross! We may not head butt our peers who abuse us like Zinedine Zidane did to March Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup Final with billions watching! We may not kick a boot in anger so that it lands on the forehead of David Beckham, slicing the skin there open, as the manager of Manchester United once did after they lost in the Arsenal in the Federation Cup (Reported by Sportstar, 22 March 2003). But the fact remains with all relationships-related problems with our peers at some point in our lives.
The Cog In The Wheel
As we go about constructing the ship called "Relationship" with our peers, at the bedrock we need to have this can't-manage-without-it virtue of forgiveness. It is cog in the wheel for all relationships. When imperfect people move with each other, it is imperative that they carry an attitude of forgiveness. Otherwise, no relationship under the sun will ever work. We invariably join British Musician Elton John in singing, "Sorry seems to be the hardest word." But as difficult it is as a virtue to practise for nurturing good relationships, there are no options before us in this matter. The Bible is unequivocal - uncompromising -in advocating the virtue of forgiveness. The apostles teach us that we should "forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you" (Col. 3:13 The Message). Well, that's tall order. That's terribly difficult, right? But let's face a simple-yet-sublime fact: no one has hurt us the way we've hurt Christ, right? Then if Christ can forgive us, there is no reason under the sun we should not forgive those who've hurt us! Cool logic, correct? This is very serious because, "You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part." Those are Jesus' frighteningly frank words in trendy English in Matthew 6:15 from The Message! Yes! You have indeed read that correctly: You will remain unforgiven, if you don't forgive others! Guess what is the place God has reserved for unforgiven people? It's hell! That's why forgiving others is terribly serious - it could decide your eternal destiny!
Once Mike Tyson, the boxing superstar, bit the ear of his peer boxer, Evander Holyfield in a boxing bout. You know what Holyfield - a follower of Christ - told Tyson, "That's not the way you play the game. But nevertheless I forgive you!" If Holyfield-following the example of Christ who forgave His enemies from the cross and who called His very own betrayer as His "friend" -could forgive a guy who bit his ear, shouldn't we take it as a challenge to forgive our friends who may not bite our ears, but may bite our egos?!
The 300 kg Metal Ball
I recall that I scolded one of my college-mates for no reason. When I went back to my hostel room after an initial elation, I felt miserable and guilty. But I thought to myself, "But she is my junior. Why should I, her senior, go and apologise to her?" Then as the Holy Spirit's conviction was weighty, I swallowed the pride and ego, went and apologised to her. I was over the moon! I felt so light! The reason? The heaviest load you could carry is not a 300 Kg metal ball, but the grudge which you house in your unforgiving heart! We read in the book of Proverbs: "Overlook an offence and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and - goodbye, friend!" (17:9). This was the verse that motivated me to forgive and forget all my seniors in college who ragged me indecently and forge a genuine friendship with them! Once that grudge and bitterness are off your heart, you'd feel light and unfettered.
King David And Rahul Dravid!
But beware of the very common phenomenon of "shallow forgiveness." I would go to the extent of calling "Davidic Forgiveness"! Can't grasp that? Let me explain: David wallowed in it! One of David's peers Shimei - a member of the family of Saul, the king who loved to hate David - pelted him with stones and cursed him saying, "Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel! The LORD is paying you back for murdering Saul and his family. You stole his throne, and now the LORD is paying you back for murdering Saul and his family. You stole his throne, and now the LORD has given it to Absalom. At last you will taste some of your own medicine, you murderer!" (II Sam. 16:5-8 NLT). Shemei's accusations on David were false and baseless. In fact, David repeatedly and deliberately missed opportunities to finish off King Saul. Saul was killed by his own armour-bearer-not David, by any stretch of imagination (I Sam. 31). When David heard this curse, he uttered high-sounding spiritual words: "Leave him alone (His men were gearing up to chop Shemei's head off - v. 9). Let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it!" (II Sam. 16:11). Here the Bible's David does something similar to cricket's Dravid. Let me explain: Cricket fans will recollect how when South African paceman Allan Donald rained foul words on Rahul Dravid in a Test Match, he looked away and stayed ice-cool.
Forgive like the Son of David
The story of David isn't over as yet. The same David, who seemed to be very philosophical about what Shemei did to him, wanted his son to arrange a bloody death for him (I Kgs. 2:8,9)! It is his life's last wish! In I Kings 2:9 we read of his wish for vengeance and in verse 10 David dies! "The man after God's own heart" died with a hard feeling. How sad! This seemed to be a nagging problem for David. Consider this: He seemed to have forgiven his son, the absconding Absalom, for avenging his other son, Amnon for the rape of his daughter Tamar (II Sam. 14:21). But after Absalom arrived in Jerusalem, he utters, "Absalom may go to his own house, but he must never see my face!" Do you "forgive" people David-style? Don't! You must forgive people like the Son of David-Jesus. Jesus forgave the soldiers who nailed him on the cross, didn't He?
Do It Now
So why are you waiting? Pick up your phone. And call that pal of yours with whom you have not been talking to for many days. And make-up with that person. That is more important than applying make-up on your face! That is more important than dropping an offering in the offering box at church (See Matt. 5:23,24). You must do that even if the fault is not on your side. Jesus taught that we must do it even if the other person has "something against" us (Matt. 5:23 NLT). You probably have nothing against that person. But the other person has something against you. And so, you must take the initiative to forgive that person. You must not wait for the other person to come to you. And you must do it now. This is what Jesus taught in Mathew 5:23-24. And He practised what He preached. Without waiting for the soldiers, who pinned Him to the cross, to ask for forgiveness, He requested His Father to forgive them. He did not say, "I need some time to get over this. Let me do it after I rise again from the dead and after they come to me, saying, 'sorry." He did not do a Priyanka Gandhi; Priyanka waited for many years before meeting with the woman who was part of the team that killed her father, former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, to offer her forgiveness. But it is quite commendable that Priyanka did it, even though it was a belated gesture. But some of us don't forgive ever. Let us repent! Let us reconcile with those we have fallen apart! Let's do it, NOW!