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I Have Forgiven Jesus

Morrissey & Autiobiography

Morrissey & Autiobiography

Whilst reading a music magazine lately I noticed Morrissey (formerly – unless they reform from time to time – of legendary band The Smiths) has his autobiography out. It’s marketed rather cleverly (I thought so anyway) as one of those Penguin Classics, or maybe that just makes it look old? The reviews seem to range from lauding it as a classic of music literature to ‘as depressing as Morrissey himself’. It’s all subjective!

It reminded me of a time I was browsing the cd section in a music store and  found Morrissey’s solo album You Are The Quarry. Glancing through the song list I found the song title I have forgiven Jesus. Well that’s a bit arrogant, I thought, you’ve got that the wrong way around, Jesus forgives us, we don’t forgive Him, we need forgiveness, He doesn’t. Then I remembered Morrissey was a rock star and therefore not prone to humility (apologies for sweeping generalization and to all humble rock stars)!

Standing in the cd section of a music store isn’t, in all honesty, a place I usually have deep thoughts (more usually thoughts like “How come they have every cd but the one I want??”) but this time my mind seemed to want to dwell on those words, I have forgiven JesusAfter years of headache inducing theological training and studying aspects of psychology and sociology, as well as experience of human nature in that most brutal of all educational establishments, the University of Life, I was reminded that people don’t say things for no reason, there is always a reason, whether we can understand it or find it or not. Call it the subconscious, call it brain chemistry, call it psychological conditioning or call it anything else you want. People say things for a reason even if they don’t know what that reason is.

Morrissey

Morrissey points to Jesus, “I forgive you!”

This isn’t an examination of Morrissey’s actual song but rather the words I have forgiven Jesus. Twenty five years as a Christian has shown me that many people (I know some and you probably know some) have ‘issues’ with God. Frequently those issues, which invariably turn them away from God, involve an experience which has caused hurt to them or someone they know and they blame God, I get that. Or sometimes they look at world events and wonder how a loving, good God could allow such things so they reject God, I get that too. They accuse Him and find Him guilty, God in the dock and found wanting, if you will. You cannot reach the stage of forgiving Jesus without first finding Him guilty.  Many people find Him guilty and consign Him to the position of hate object or at the very least sent to the naughty step or even to the ultimate punishment status, non-existence, for anything up to, oh, an entire lifetime.

Anyway, weeks…months…years pass…and then there comes a time when they start to revisit the experience that caused them to turn away from God. Maybe something happens that causes them to re-evaluate their views, maybe they simply can’t escape the nagging thought that ‘there has to be something more’. For these people, there comes a period of reflection, painful and difficult reflection and through that process (months/years) they reach a stage where their thinking towards the person they saw as Jesus changes.

God in the Dock...Guilty!

God in the Dock…Guilty!

They finally and not without difficulty (emotionally, intellectually and spiritually) reach the point where they can say “I have forgiven Jesus.” Those may be very difficult, possibly the most difficult, words to say.

It’s a route many have taken in today’s world and many more await that journey. There is, I believe, a generation of people who were brought up under some kind of Christian influence and, possibly through the bad example of Christians or Christian institutions, or what they saw as the bad behaviour of God Himself, turned away from God. Others have never had a particular Christian influence in their lives but have nonetheless felt anger at God because of what they see being said and done in His name. Then, over the course of time, sometimes a lifetime, some of these people begin to see that it is not God Himself who has harmed them, rather, it is the poor witness and testimony of Christians or the Church in general. Or perhaps they come to a better understanding of God, the Bible, they see there are differing interpretations and viewpoints. Perhaps they realise that what they have been told about Christians belief, isn’t actually what Christians, or not all Christians, actually do believe.

So they have started to consider God apart from the Church (or perhaps through the good example of other Christians) and discovered that God is not the person who so disappointed or hurt them all those years ago. God is not the person they thought God was, all those years ago. God may not actually be the person who they have been angry at all these years. They may have been angry at the person they thought was God, the person they imagined God to be, even the person they were told God was, but not the person who God actually is.

So they have begun the journey back to God and have, in a sense, ‘forgiven Jesus’. I’m reminded of the title of Philip Yancey’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew. I think there’s a whole generation just waiting to meet the Jesus they never knew. Maybe they weren’t ready for that Jesus before. When we have a row, possibly a blazing row, with someone, someone we love or just an acquaintance, it can take time, even if we know we’re the ones in the wrong, to come to the point of, reluctantly, approaching that person again and making things right.

Standing there in the music store, although I couldn’t agree with the sentiment of forgiving Jesus, it did make me ponder the process of reaching an ‘understanding’ which makes progress possible and ends a lifetime of being at an impasse, sometimes a very angry impasse. I thought of my own experience with depression, of the battles and emotional fluctuations between being angry at God and, over the course of time, coming to some kind of realization, some kind of acceptance of God’s use of that illness for my good and His glory. That is not an easy or quick stage to reach, but it is reachable. My faith had to go through several wringers to reach it, but whatever the pain, whatever the intellectual and emotional torment, whatever the scale of suffering under which a person is suffocated, the time comes for ‘some kind of acceptance’, for hard faith. This is where any accusations of faith as an ‘easy route’ are blown out of the water.

In the battle to ‘understand’, there comes a time for ‘some kind of’ progress, for forward movement. I had never uttered the words “I have forgiven Jesus”, but I had been angry at God, not all the time, but sometimes, and I had told God that in no uncertain terms. I think there is a spiritual liberation, a simultaneous lancing and healing that takes place when we can admit to being angry at God, admit that to God. He already knows anyway and still loves us to bits. He knows it will do us the world of good to tell Him about it and He’s the best listener and healer in the universe.

Reconciliation

Reconciliation

I reached the stage of saying “I have reached a point where I can say that although I don’t fully understand what God has allowed me to endure, I have faith that His way is perfect, that everything He does is right and all His ways are just, and that He is still the God I love and trust.”

There was a point in my illness when I contemplated atheism because I couldn’t handle the thought that God was allowing this to happen to me. I will write about that another time. But in a sentence, as much as I found it difficult to find meaning in God allowing this to happen to me, I found that in a universe without God, without meaning, purpose or reason, not only my own suffering but all suffering of all people is, in the end, meaningless. Even in my despairing state of mind that made no sense to me. Apparently, not being willing to accept this made me weak and unable to cope with life as it is. My view is that that is not life as it is. If God exists then there is meaning, even if we can’t always know what that meaning is yet. If God does not exist then there is no meaning to anything, not ultimately.

I decided that while I could have concluded that God didn’t exist in light of my experience of suffering, ultimately, suffering can and must be accommodated into the overall purposes of God and this is seen nowhere more acutely and clearly than in the tortuous death of Jesus at the cross. If you want an answer to the question of suffering, look to the cross of Jesus and subsequent resurrection. At the cross I believe Jesus suffered, experienced, endured and emerged victorious over the worst conceivable form of physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, intellectual darkness known to humanity.

When I witness that horror, that terror, that level of suffering, both the mystery and the revelation of it, what Jesus went through for me and that His risen life means He is with me now and always, and that He knows the pathway of my life better than I do, then I can say, “I have forgiven Jesus.”

Reconciliation 🙂

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6 comments on “I Have Forgiven Jesus

  1. Leah Ness
    December 18, 2013

    You definitely bring up a good point. I’ve noticed in my own life that I have held grudges against God. If I haven’t received the answer I wanted to a series of prayers, it affects my prayer life and my faith because I’m angry at God for ‘letting me down.’ But since God never does anything wrong and I know that, it’s hard to admit when I’m mad at Him because I know I have no good reason to be. I have to acknowledge and let go of those grudges against Him and apologize for holding them in the first place if I ever want to grow in my relationship with Him. Thanks very much for this post and the important truths it explores =)

    • Through Another Lens
      December 18, 2013

      Thanks for comment!

      There have been times I’ve asked God for something and it hasn’t been forthcoming and I’ve been angry but only after time has passed have I realized that my motives were all wrong and had I been given what I wanted it would actually have been detrimental. Sometimes it’s taken me a long time to tell God, “Yep, you were right after all!” I have frequently thanked God for not giving me what I wanted!

      It was an amazing day when it dawned on me that, as the God I believe in can only do what is ultimately good, and is incapable of doing anything to harm me, then it’s my attitude that so often has to change. I’ve found those to be wonderfully, if not always easily reached, moments of liberation 🙂

  2. Lee
    December 18, 2013

    Great piece. Thanks!

    In addition to people being hurt by organized religion, by the destructive acts of “Christians,” and by false and condemnatory pictures of God people may have been fed by “Christians,” there is another reason we may be angry at God. When our will is opposed to God’s will, God is continually working against what we want, and generally not giving us what we want. Then we get angry at God for “working against us.”

    If our will is to gain money, power, pleasure, and so on for ourselves and ourselves alone, but God’s will is for us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, then from our perspective, God is a contrary, destructive force opposing and frustrating the achievement of our desires. To a snowman, the sun is an enemy. The warmth of the sun melts snow.

    If that is our reason for being angry at God, then only the melting of our self-centered heart, and our gaining a heart of love for others in its place, will bring us to the point of “forgiving God.” There is a similar metaphor in Ezekiel 36:25-28.

    • Through Another Lens
      December 18, 2013

      Thank very much!

      You’re completely correct, our will not being aligned with God’s will is a frequent cause of anger at God. Our will/thoughts are so often the antithesis of God’s. We have to remember that God sees the whole picture and God knows what is best for us but for the human mindset to accept this means accepting that we do not always know what’s best for ourselves and that is very hard for human pride to deal with. The amazing thing is that God is so patient with us, even when we can take years to ‘get it’.

      Love the snowman illustration!

  3. Friend of a friend
    March 22, 2017

    I realize this will probably get lost, but your gut reaction to the song’s content is no really correct. The song is not being sung from a perspective of hubris at all – in fact by the end of the song it is clear that the speaker of the song has not actually forgiven Jesus at all, proclaiming, “Do you hate me? Do you hate me? Do you hate me?”

    It is a song that could have just has easily come from a figure such as Job – of course Jesus would be standing in for God in that example, but the point remains.

    It’s just as easily a song about crisis of faith, or lack of faith, more than an “inflated rock star” or whatever. Not much modern art is willing to explore these themes, and I do recommend giving the song a critical lesson.

    • Through Another Lens
      April 25, 2017

      Hi, thanks for your thoughts and taking the time to write. While I love any art that explores such themes I would, in response to your thoughts, simply quote my own words from the article, “This isn’t an examination of Morrissey’s actual song but rather the words I have forgiven Jesus.” I wasn’t attempting to interpret the song as Morrissey sang it but rather taking the words, “I have forgiven Jesus” and applying them to my own situation. Thanks again.

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This entry was posted on December 18, 2013 by in Christian Musings, Music and tagged , , , , , , , .
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