Text: Matthew 6:12
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It’s week four of our look at the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father, our parent who walks across the room to pursue a relationship with us, may your reputation be made holy and special through how we live. May your vision and dream for a healed and reconciled world become a reality on earth among all people. Provide our needs, may there be peace with everyone who provides our bread and a piece of bread for everyone, and may we be at peace with today and not worry about tomorrow.
That’s my paraphrase so far.
Forgive us our debts, sins, trespasses.
All these words mean the same thing. One person does something harmful against another person. Forgive us. How?
There’s that big, fat, as(one s, thank you) right in the middle of this prayer that makes it very difficult for me.
Forgive us as we forgive others. Yikes!
If that wasn’t clear enough for us, look at the verse immediately following the prayer.
If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
It’s really all about baggage. [set suitcase on ground]
It usually starts when we are really young. You are on the playground and there is that group of kids who says you are too fat, or too slow, or too stupid, or wierd to play on their team. [pick up a bag]
Your best friend starts spreading rumors about you and your reputation is trashed. [pick up a bag]
Your dad doesn’t show up to your game…again. [pick up bag]
Can I talk to Dads for a second? It’s Father’s Day, so I want to remind us of something. Here is a sobering reality. Our first impression of who God is, and what God is like, comes from our human fathers.
Remember three weeks ago when I talked about the difference between the father/child relationship and the mother/child relationship? The father is that strange creature on the other side of the room. The father must walk across the room and engage in the relationship for it to make sense to the child.
If your human Dad never walked across the room, then God is an absent, distant God. [pick up bag]
Maybe Dad did walk across the room, but he beat the snot out of you, or hurt your mother, either physically or emotionally. God is an abusive God. [pick up bag]
Dads, it’s one thing to make a baby, but it is a huge and incredible responsibility to be a father.
There’s more baggage.
You get blacklisted from the promotion chain, or lose your job, because someone has it out for you at work [pick up a bag]
Your spouse, or your children, betray your trust and damage your reputation. [pick up a bag]
You, or someone close to you gets sick, and you blame God. [pick up a bag]
[move to the center] Then there’s this one. That’s my bag. It is my secret junk. It’s all the stuff in my mind, or the addiction that I keep hidden. It’s heavy, and I hope nobody ever finds out. [struggle to pick it up while carrying all the bags.]
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. If we don’t forgive, neither will our Father forgive us.
How could he, with all this baggage?
Forgiveness. Do want to know what it looks like? [drop all the bags]
The word is aphiame, and it means, “let it go.”
You see, I don’t think God is being petty here and saying that he won’t forgive us if we don’t forgive. The Bible tells us in many places that Jesus died for all people for the forgiveness of sins.
I think the truth is that, until we let go of all the baggage, we aren’t able to receive God’s forgiveness and the freedom that it brings.
Remember how I said that the rest of the Sermon on the mount explains these lines of the prayer. Last week we saw that chapter six explained the daily bread. This week we see that chapter seven, verses one through twelve talks about forgiveness and how to treat other people.
7:1-5 tell us to not judge people, but to take care of the log in your own eye before you look at the speck in someone else.
7:6 is a strange one. It says, “don’t give what is holy to dogs or throw pearls before swine.” I think this is talking about forgiveness. You can forgive people who have hurt you, but don’t let them keep hurting you. There are truly dangerous people who will continue to hurt you, now matter how much you have forgiven them. Be smart in how you deal with the forgiveness piece. Don’t throw your pearls before swine.
7:7-11 Ask, seek, and knock. Again, I think this is talking about forgiveness. God is ready and willing to forgive. God will always forgive, because God is a loving father who wants the best for his children. But, if we don’t ask, we can’t receive.
7:12 Then Jesus sums it all up. In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.
Do you see a theme in this prayer?
God’s vision for the world is not just for us, as individuals to receive forgiveness for our sins so we can go to Heaven when we die.
God’s vision for the world, God’s kingdom, God’s will, is that his children would get along with each other and live the life of peace and love that we were intended to live.
The key to the kingdom, is forgiveness. We have to let it go.
I would like to share a video with you that tells this in a way I never could.
So here’s the question today. Who do you need to forgive? Your dad for messing up your image of God?That childhood nemesis?Your spouse, your child, your old boss…yourself?
God has given us the gift of forgiveness through Jesus. It’s all settled. God loves you. Let it go, and let God’s love flow.