a Jesus & Peter dialogue on forgiveness

4 September, 2005 at 12:39 pm 3 comments

I've written this dialogue in the style of the "Eh, Jesus … Yes Peter?" Wild Goose meditations. In the interests of space, I'm only putting enough on here to give the general idea. It goes on to deal with forgiveness and "winning vs healing", loving enemies and praying for them. If you want the full text, I'll happily email it to you by return. You can email me on wol@fish.co.ukFORGIVENESS
Matthew 18: 21-35
Cast: Jesus & Peter (Peter clearly seething)
J: Peter …
P: WHAT??? O, sorry, Jesus! Didn’t realize it was you.
J: What’s the matter?
P: Nothing! Why SHOULD anything be the matter?
J: Oh, ok. I was looking for Andrew – do you know where he’s got to?
P: Don’t know, don’t care, don’t matter!
J: Aaah … the joys of family life getting to you, are they? What’s happened?
P: It’s not fair! I’ve told him over and over again … but does it make any difference? Does it thump!
J: What is unfair Peter?
P: Wednesday’s Andrew’s day to get up early, make sure the nets are untangled and ready in the boat, check for any splits in the sail … you know, get everything ready for the day’s fishing. It’s a real pain to get up early, but it has to be done. We take it in turns – or we’re SUPPOSED to. But Andrew keeps oversleeping. He says he “forgets”. So I end up making breakfast, thinking he’s sorting the boat out, when all the time he’s snoring his socks off and then I end up doing the boat as well! AND it happens ALL the time! I could have murdered him this morning!
J: What did he say?
P: He said he was sorry …
J: So it’s all sorted out, then?
P: Sorted out? How?
J: Well, you were angry, he said he’s sorry …
P: And …?
J: So if you’ve forgiven him – problem solved!
P: FORGIVEN him? You’re kidding! Why should I forgive him?
J: Why not?
P: Apart from anything else, because it happens again and again and again! And I KNOW it’ll probably be just the same way next week. It’s not a one-off. Surely you don’t expect me to go on and ON forgiving him, do you?
J: Why not?
P: Why do you rabbi types ALWAYS answer a question with a question?
J: What’s wrong with a question?
P: Very funny! Ok, answer me this: how many times do you expect me to forgive him?
J: 70 times 7
P: 70 TIMES 7??? That’s … that’s … well, that’s a LOT of times!
J: It’s 490 times, Peter.
P: 490 times? How do you expect me to keep count? I’ll lose track long before 490 and then have to start all over again! I may as well give up counting and just say I’ll forgive him every time!
J: Would that be so bad?
P: Of course it would! Why should I always be the one to give way, when he’s in the wrong? Apart from anything else, I’d look weak … a pushover!
J: You think forgiving someone is weak?
P: Of course it is! It lets him off the hook … oh, I get it! Jesus, you’re a genius!
J: I am? …

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Entry filed under: bible, christology, preaching, worship.

gone live on the lectionary! when is evangelism (in)appropriate?

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lucy  |  5 September, 2005 at 6:39 am

    But don’t we also have a responsibility to people who we love (or don’t for that matter) and who constantly let us down to expect them- and therefore allow them – to develope? Otherwise they are eventually pseudo-clients, not in a true relationship; not friends, not anything. Because the power of forgiveness can become patronising.

    Easy.They do something which has mounting capabiltity to hurt or inconvenience you. They are dissing you. You forgive them. They do it again. you forgive them again. You feel superior. Their being in true relationship to you wains as you forgive them without expectations.

    This is the trouble with the double prong of conditional/ unconditional love in bringing up kids.You have to get furious, to separate, to become imperfect, for them to be able to leave.

    It’s also a “reason” why real anger isn’t dealt with in groups; churches for example; a tiny, forgiving, powerful bunch of martyrs doing everything and looking down on the many (excluded?) others instead of getting angry, showing they care and bringing them into relationship…and, natch, taking the risk that they might leave.

    Reply
  • 2. Wol  |  5 September, 2005 at 8:13 am

    You’re right about the destruction of relationships, Lucy. But then, they’re always two-way, aren’t they? One can never force another person to relate. I suppose that the ideal is that, between people already in relationship, forgiveness keeps that relationship alive. The ideal also assumes, of course, that the other person is genuinely sorry and determined to do differently. In that case, forgiveness makes continuing relationship possible where there is no way of undoing something.

    But Jesus also asks us to forgive our enemies. Those are people who have no interest in a relationship with us, and for whom forgiveness may indeed be taken simply as a sign of weakness. Why forgive? Not to restore lost relationship, but (a) to hold open the possibility of relationship in the future and (b) so that what they do will not be held against them by God. That seems to me the parallel with Jesus’ words of forgiveness on the cross.

    You’re right, too, about the dynamic of failing to deal with anger. Forgiveness ought to be a way of confronting the reality of offence and its effect. We don’t have to fear it as destructive because it is not going to be the last word. But when we don’t, and repress it, it either manifests as depression or the sort of superiority you describe. We rather desperately need some reality therapy in our Christian communities …

    Reply
  • 3. Lucy  |  5 September, 2005 at 9:34 am

    I also believe about enmity that it is a relationship. You only have to look at the amount of energy which goes into it; whether in a spite filled divorce or in War. Indifference is the ultimate killer.

    Hatred, however ugly, is the expression of an important loathing with the potential for sorting. Indifference – slavery is a good example, perhaps also the pragmatism of the Camps Camps – is where relationship no
    longer exists.–>

    Reply

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