Forgiveness is first for you, the forgiver...to release you from something that will eat you alive; that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly. Do you think this man cares about the pain and torment you have gone through? If anything, he feeds on that knowledge. Don't you want to cut that off? And in doing so, you'll release him from a burden that he carries whether he knows it or not--acknowledges it or not.
I think people are tired of religion and how it divides and damages people. You can name it whatever you want, Islam or Christianity, but if you have a system in which God is distant and angry all the time, and you're trying to please him through the right disciplines, it isn't going to work for everyone.
I want to tell you about the God that actually showed up and healed my heart. Not the God I grew up, because the God I grew up was fundamentally, and I use the word advisedly, fundamentally untrustworthy -- schizophrenic, narcissistic, unreachable, unknowable, and my concept within which I grew up was that Jesus -- He likes me -- but He came to save me from God the Father -- who was the one who was angry and distant, and unreachable, unknowable. All of that had to come crashing down.
Lies are a little fortress; inside them you can feel safe and powerful. Through your little fortress of lies you try to run your life and manipulate others. But the fortress needs walls, so you build some. These are the justifications for your lies. You know, like you are doing this to protect someone you love, to keep them from feeling pain. Whatever works, just so you feel okay about the lies.
We've created a theology in the West of a God who is fundamentally self-centered. The imagery of God as distant, unapproachable, unreachable -- that's not a God who is relational. It is a God that gets to declare or judge when he gets pissed off. But there is no basis for love and relationships if God is a fundamentally self-centered being.
Something in the heart of most human beings simply cannot abide pain inflicted on the innocent, especially children. Even broken men serving in the worst correctional facilities will often first take out their own rage on those who have caused suffering to children. Even in such a world of relative morality, causing harm to a child is still considered absolutely wrong. Period!
Women, in general, will find it difficult to turn from a man and stop demanding that he meets their needs, provides security, and protects their identity, and return to me. Men, in general, find it very hard to turn from the works of their hands, their own quests for power and security and significance, and turn to me.
...if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will be the same again.
So, why do I have so much fear in my life?" "Because you don't believe. You don't know that we love you. The person who lives by his fears will not find freedom in my love. I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially the projection of those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe that I am good not know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it, you talk about it, but you don't know it.
Jesus picked up the conversation. "As the crowning glory of creation, you were made in Our image, unencumbered by structure and free to simply 'be' in relationship with Me and one another. If you had trully learned to regard one another's concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy.
Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established.
I think my books give people a language to have a conversation about God that's not religious. There isn't enough new literature that brings the conversation of God into a modern context. I love the Bible, but in the West we've analyzed it until it fits into a structure of control. We need more new stories. We need different ways of looking at things, and I think it's coming.
Evangelicals have like millions of rules. And it's just, uh, we have sort of an accepted, rationalism within which we frame religion. And we think that belief, intellectually, is of the same as relationship. And in our Western family conversation, that's become an incredible impediment toward actual wholeness, where the heart and the head are aligned and relationship -- with not just God but with each other.