This scripture from Matthew chapter 6 can be very difficult to understand. Jesus says that God will forgive us only in so far as we forgive others. A cruel depiction of God as a withholding father? One who has pre-determined how much forgiveness to dole out based on how much or how little forgiveness we have shared? For victims of crime, abuse, neglect.. this scripture can really hurt us... if we think that it is a picture of God who re-victimizes the victim.
Rather than hear these words as a punishment, consider instead how Jesus is drawing for us a picture of the exchange of grace. What if we view forgiveness as a flow of powerful divine energy? When the energy of God's forgiving love is blocked, it cannot reach us. A blockage in the flow of this love could be caused by our human limits of understanding. It could be caused by our fear, our shame or anger. These are aspects of our human condition that can prevent the healing work of forgiveness to flow - Our work over the next week is let the power of Gods energy break down the walls that we have built, to let the power break the chains of the past.
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