As many of you who read my blog regularly already know, I write a column for my church newsletter every other month. This is my submission for February, and if you’re not up for religious stuff, I understand completely if you skip it. Religion isn’t for everyone and I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable:)
“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying” – Nelson Mandela
When Nelson Mandela passed away last December, we lost a powerful example of the ability of love and forgiveness to change the world. He endured nearly 30 years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of a racist government and was regarded by many as the living embodiment of Christ for his determination not to punish those who oppressed his people. Mandela, however, was the first to admit that the road to a forgiving heart led him through many dark places which he had to acknowledge before he could focus on healing both himself and his nation. How is it possible to live up to his example when it can be so difficult to follow Christ’s teachings in our own lives? The most important thing to remember is that we aren’t expected to be perfect. The Bible is full of people who aren’t exactly at their best; Saul sanctioned the slaughter of Christians before his conversion, King David committed murder, and even Jesus himself lost his temper at the temple. Giving in to weakness and temptation is part of what makes us human. Acknowledging our sins and weaknesses before God allows us to heal and move toward a greater understanding of our place in God’s world. Though we won’t necessarily make the same impact someone like Mandela did, we can draw closer to God and live our lives more completely for Him when we seek to be both forgiven and forgiving.
For me, I find the most inspiration from the Biblical figures that weren’t at their best. It reminds me that they were flawed, just as I am, yet they served well in spite of that.
Very nice. The question was once posed in our bible study class: Would you rather have justice or grace?
Well I think grace brings justice. Not sure about the other way around.
I will cherish this post since I admire Mandela and the words you chose to strengthen and encourage us to have faith! I am a big believer in forgiving and being forgiven when we are humble before God.
You know, this one was both easy and hard to write. Easy in that Mandela’s example has inspired me for a long time now and encouraged me to live a more Christian life, but difficult in that I didn’t think my words would really do his example justice. I’ve led a sheltered life compared to most people in the world, and I could never understand the oppression he suffered, but maybe I don’t have to. Our minister used this quote in a sermon a couple of weeks before I wrote this and that’s when it hit home for me – forgiveness is as much for us as the one who needs to be forgiven. I just hope I’m a big enough person to put that into practice in my life.