As Easter approaches, many people around the globe are reminded of Christ Jesus’ paramount example of forgiveness during his crucifixion. Whether we are troubled by acts of hatred and aggression in the world or are struggling with clashes and frustrations in our own affairs, following Jesus’ approach to forgiveness continues to make a healing difference today.
I found this to be the case when one of my relationships took a turn for the worse. I was really hurt by what was said and done and wondered if we would ever make amends.
For a day or so, I wallowed in the offense and speculated about our future encounters. Then, wanting confirmation, I shared the scenario with a friend. The straightforward response I received was that the demand was to forgive. I was so grateful for this wake-up call! It alerted me to stop rehearsing what had happened and to, instead, continue being kind and caring, knowing that this would restore peace.
Through my study of Christian Science, I have come to understand that the love that comes from God really does heal and renew. So with a sincere desire to see this situation turn around, I began to pray. In quiet humility, I wholeheartedly turned to the Father to listen for what I needed to be thinking about this individual as well as myself. Within moments I recalled these words from the Bible spoken by Christ Jesus in the midst of his crucifixion: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Certainly, I was in no way comparing my problem to something so significant to Christianity as the crucifixion. I was simply turning to the same principle of unconditional love that Jesus exemplified and taught throughout his healing ministry. I wanted to be obedient to his instruction. I could see that this requirement to forgive was the necessity on my part to be compassionate, to continue to value the fine qualities of this dear friend regardless of the circumstance. True forgiveness was my answer, and I wanted to heal the wounds for both of us.
There was a tug from within to get it right, to express more of the same genuine love that Jesus embodied. While he never condoned wrongdoing, if someone was not aware of the moral or spiritual lesson they needed to learn, he never returned wrong with wrong, not even at the cross.
It became clear to me how much forgiveness had to do with what followed Jesus’ crucifixion – with what Christians call his resurrection. The Master’s completely spiritual consciousness enabled him to rise from death. The profound power of God, divine Love, allowed Jesus to prove through forgiveness that Love conquers hate, that Spirit overrides matter as the basis of our being, and that eternal Life ultimately triumphs over death.
Even in my modest circumstance, I realized how much I wanted to forgive, to be free from the burden of having taken offense, so my thought and experience could be uplifted, resurrected, through the love of Christ. What mattered most was my willingness to be loving under all circumstances. I also knew that I had the responsibility to hold to the spiritual understanding that man, God’s precious child, is pure and was not created with the ability to offend or to take offense. I changed my perspective entirely. And not only was harmony restored with this individual, but I also noticed that mental scars from past hurts in different situations had completely disappeared. The earnest effort to uplift my own thinking brought numerous blessings and enriched other relationships as well.
Emphasizing an important aspect of Christ Jesus’ resurrection, the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, “Through all the disciples experienced, they became more spiritual and understood better what the Master had taught. His resurrection was also their resurrection” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 34).
Each of us has the ability and the opportunity to follow Jesus’ standard of unconditional love in every thought, word, and deed. As we do, we too will go higher with individual resurrection experiences and prove the power of divine Love to bring healing.