The Ultimate Class Act
KA Wieske - published in Una Sancta Volume 53, Number 7, 25 February 2006
Class Action is a class act. Itís a story about two lawyers who go head-to-head, both in court and in life. They are father and daughter ... on opposite sides of a complicated case charged with the full spectrum of emotions. The father is defending a man who lost both legs when his car exploded after it was hit by another vehicle. The daughter is representing the maker of the car, a huge corporation that intends to win, no matter what, since millions are at stake. The fatherís law firm is a small, unimpressive outfit comprised of a few hard-working people while the daughter is one step below a partner in a large, slick, legal firm. The story finally boils down to an issue of personal integrity, which introduces a dimension not often found in todayís me, I and myself world.
It is the father-daughter interplay, however, that gives the story its definition. During her early teen years her father was often on the road, busily engaged in various cases and crusades. During that impressionable era of her life, he was not only unfaithful to her mother, he was virtually out of touch with the family. Though he loved them, he was morally weak and failed to demonstrate his affection. His wife chose to stay with him, not allowing his infidelity to destroy their home. But the daughter was not nearly so magnanimous, choosing instead to resent her fatherís lifestyle. In fact, her resentment festered into full-blown competition, both privately and professionally. Nothing would please her more than winning that case in the courtroom ... a perfect place to unleash her rage, to humiliate her father and retaliate on behalf of her mother, whom she idolises.
Her problem, plain and simple, is an unwillingness to forgive. Behind this brilliant womanís drive and accomplishments lie demons of bitterness. Unknown to the young woman, her soul awaits that moment when she can finally forgive her father ... and be free.
Free to win or lose. Free to love and live. Free to grow and mature. Truly free. Thatís what forgiveness can do.
What is true in the make-believe world of literature is all the more true in the real world of life. Jesus Himself spoke of forgiveness on several occasions. Like the time Peter asked Him if forgiving someone "seven times" was sufficient. After all, that was over twice the going rate according to the Phariseesí teaching. To paraphrase Jesusí terse answer: "Would you believe seventy times seven?" In other words, an infinite number of times ...absolutely no limit.
Jesus then went on to point out that without forgiveness there cannot be freedom, and He told them the story of a man who, after having been forgiven an enormous debt, refused to forgive someone who owed him a measly twenty dollars. The man who would not forgive was called back before the king, who "handed him over to the torturers" (Matt. 18:34). The word means "inquisitors," conveying the idea of personal torment ... internal torture.
Jesus added: "So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart" (18:35).
You tell me. Does that sound like forgiveness is important?
My concern is not some lawyer portrayed in a story; itís those in the Family of God who are being slowly eaten up by the acid of resentment because of someone who has done them wrong.
Have we become so calloused to the third question of self-examination in the Form for the celebration of the Lordís Supper that participation in this sacrament in such circumstances no longer scares the living daylight out of us?
"... let everyone examine his conscience whether it his sincere desire
to show true thankfulness to God with his entire life and, laying aside
all enmity, hatred, and envy, to live with his neighbour in true love and
unity ...otherwise their judgment and condemnation will be the heavier."
(Book of Praise, pp.595 -596)
Am I suggesting the offender deserves to be forgiven? Not at all.
Am I implying that the wrong wasnít all that bad? No way.
I cannot explain how it works or why itís so powerful. All I know is that the arduous journey to freedom and salvation invariably leads through the door named Forgiveness. Refuse to open that door and you remain locked in your own chamber of horrors.
Itís true. Forgiving a wrongdoer goes against all the stuff your old nature wants to see happen. Everything within you screams, "Get back ...get even ... punish!" As logical as it seems, however, those are the very sounds of misery that fill the torture chamber of an unforgiving heart. Read Matthew 18:21-35 again.
We are most like beasts when we kill.
We are most like men when we judge.
We are most like God when we forgive.
Why not reach out and unlock the door to freedom?
Do it today.
The latch is on the inside.
No one else can turn it for you.
Of all the actions you can carry out, that one is the ultimate class act.