What Is It About Forgiveness That Ticks People Off?

What Is It About Forgiveness That Ticks People Off?

In the wake of the insanely tasteless “Innocence of Muslims” video and the similarly dishonorable outrage and violence of part of the Muslim world, I have been surprise by the response to my response. I think the movie is awful and is probably should be considered hate speech. I’m embarrassed that some of my brothers in Christ have chosen to be that foolish and unwise and they should be disciplined by the body. But, I’m an idiot much of the time as well, so I’m inclined to forgive them.

This, I have found, ticks some people off.

At the same time I’m watching theArab Street go absolutely off the rails. The protests, and the violence make zero sense. I do not understand how these people can call themselves good Muslims and become this enraged and violent over an idiotic and, frankly, juvenile film that should not be taken seriously. It looks like it was filmed and edited by a high school amateur. They are killing people and going crazy over the actions of a fool. Islamic reaction to the film is absolutely ridiculous and there is no excuse for it either. However, I’m a ridiculous reactor to certain things. I’m foolish and violent (though not physically, but my words can wound). I’m inclined to want to forgive them and to try to ask people to approach them with some charity and grace while the cooler heads try to prevail.

This, I have found, ticks some people off.

Forgiveness is absolutely offensive to those who are highly invested in being right. Forgiveness is impossible for those whose identity is built upon 1) the need to have winners and losers, and 2) the inability to imagine losing.

Just a quick heads up: Jesus’s central teaching about the kingdom of God is that to win, you have to lose. To be first, you have to intentionally come in last. To find true life, you have to be willing to lose your life before you join the throngs of the violent & self-justified. To be forgiven, you have to forgive. What is it about forgiveness that pisses people off? It’s the gospel. And the gospel is offensive, especially to the religious.

So for some Friday funny, here’s a little article on the perils of forgiveness from the Lark News:

ON FORGIVINGSPREE, MAN ALIENATES FRIENDS, FAMILY

LUBBOCK,Texas— Dan Bentley, 38, used to have trouble admitting he was wrong, until a sermon series convinced him that asking forgiveness was the path to personal freedom. Now he is asking forgiveness so much that he’s on the verge of losing every friend he’s ever made. “I’m cleaning the slate with everybody, no matter how difficult that proves to be,” he says.

Bentley recently asked a woman at work to forgive him for spending years ogling her, especially when she wore particular outfits. He was promptly hit with a sexual harassment claim and a demotion. He asked forgiveness of two high school buddies and detailed what had bothered him about their personalities. They haven’t invited him fishing since. Even his mother is angry at him for confessing that for years he’d seen her as overbearing, selfish and manipulating and that he needed forgiveness for “always liking Dad a lot better.” She promptly disinvited him to the family’s Fourth of July reunion.

Bentley says that though he’s paid a high price for coming clean he “really feels free.” “My pastor was right,” he says. “Asking forgiveness completely changes your life.”

About Tim Suttle

Tim Suttle is a pastor, writer, and musician. He is the author of several books: Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), and An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade Books, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals. Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. He has planted three successful churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.

  • Teri Reynolds

    Now that is funny, the fellow who went around apologizing to those who didn’t know of his offenses…can’t we all agree that if there is no perceived offense, do your repenting to God, and leave it at that. I once had a lady write me a note telling me how much she had been angry with me, and I had never known she was angry. And she was forgiving me for ignoring her. I didn’t even know I had ignored her, I was truly ignorant of the whole thing. My response at first was to laugh. Then I felt remorse. And I hoped she was truly over it. But I did not respond. Not because I wouldn’t. But because it was supposedly a battle that was over, even though I never even knew about it. Geesh.

  • Tim Suttle

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