An Admirable Life-13-Forgiveness

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever" Hebrews 13:8.

"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness" Lamentations 3:22,23.

"I count not myself to have apprehended: but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" Philippians 3:13,14.

   Is the ideal work environment to find that place where there is stability, permanence and renewal? If so, the nirvana for one's life work is somewhere in the realm of forgiveness. An institutional leader can have (must have) open mistrust of all fixed, crystalized social roles but he cannot (dares not) be the Unforgiver.

   He must renew, so he must be constantly renewed. He must make his institution stable, so he must rebuild after every seismic disturbance. He must make his work permanent without ever letting it become a memorial to himself. He must shirk honors and profit for the sake of the work.

   That is, he must care more for the underlying principles of his work than for its form.

    He will not accomplish the task easily.

   He will find himself in combat against numberless adversaries. Finally, he will grow discouraged, despair and die. The most he can expect is to add some original elements in his labor. He will fight against the Past, while he holds tight to the Past and finally becomes the Past. The tension will be his end if he stays to the end.

   The leader of something desirable should have numberless adversaries. He must ignore the uninteresting, mindless detractors, while he seeks conciliation with all others. He must become accustomed to failure. The constant failure, partial, partial, then complete, is what marks him as necessary more than needed.

   As he assumes office he enters a voluntary form of imprisonment. Some will call it sublimated madness. In his cell he must fail repeatedly but never actually feels too much like a failure. His machine fails around him. He is the center-piece of the maelstrom. 

   He is constantly at war with the Past. He has the central role in the cast as the audience sees the play but the Past has an invisible role that is even more central. In fact, the Past describes the setting and writes the dialog for all the visible characters.  All who see him act as they do because of the Past, their shared Past. They are fanatics because they appoint themselves Keepers of the Lost Days. They count him as a nihilist if he does not see the Past in their hands.

   The worst are those who rail against the Perfect Past.

   The Leader must fail, then, because the Idealized Past is only a part of the Imperfect Present and less than a wink at the Fearful Future. He must find  a way to see the Lord's mercies new every morning, so that his failure does not kill him immediately. He must love the chase more than the arrival at the peak. If he calls reorganization renewal, he is a buffoon. If he speaks of his own satisfaction, he is a miser.

   History must inhabit him. If he is to look at his people generously, their history must torment him endlessly.

   He will need to judge himself differently and so redeem his people's history. After the liberation of Paris in 1944, Camus, who had fought with the Resistance, watched civilians shoot civilians in retribution. He argued against the practice.

   Others said,  "If we have the right to forgive those who have hurt us, we do not have the right to forgive those who have hurt innocent people."

   If one is to lead others, he must judge himself differently, forgiving his own sins. He can forgive those who have hurt him and his and then forgive the antagonist of the masses. In fact, forgiveness is as moral as it is spiritual, as tactical as it is strategic. Forgiveness allows the man to live with his past, so to live with our Past.

   He must forgive to be admirable.

   How to forgive? Next time.

Opinions expressed here are mine alone.



5 thoughts on “An Admirable Life-13-Forgiveness”

  1. The Lord can redeem the past.
    Paul gave it all up, relinquishing past worldly-success — education, training, birthright, tradition and “success” — and repenting of the bad past. He always acknowledged his bad-past to identify himself with sinners and to testify to the depth of God’s grace. He did not count his wordly-success-past as anything, unless the Lord redeemed it some part of it (e.g., Paul’s writing and reasoning abilities) for His purposes.

  2. Yet, he constantly fought the past. It finally cost him his life. And in fact Pauls struggle with the Past tormented him daily, it seems, since he makes mention of how much he wants Israel to be saved. He never left his Jewishness, his shared Past with the Jewish community. He inhabited their Past. All his ministry Paul had this invisible character of the Past setting the scene and making dialog.

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