Monday, March 29, 2010

"Making Peace with the Past" - My Article in the Southside Messenger

Spirit & Truth # 172
“I Have Issues – Making Peace with the Past”

By Rev. Greg Smith

"Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him (2 Samuel 9:3)?”

When someone has hurt you, you’re usually not very likely to want to make peace with them. Honestly, you’d rather keep them at arm’s length. A wise friend once told me, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” That way, you can keep an eye on them. You might think that this was David’s motivation in inviting Mephibosheth to his table, but there’s no indication that David’s heart was filled with anything but grace.

King Saul, who had pursued David for years in an attempt to take his life, was now dead, along with his son and David’s best friend, Jonathan. David finally had assumed the throne, and now he desired to make peace with his past. He remembered the covenant he had made with Jonathan, and because of that covenant he realized he had to forgive Saul’s family for their offense against him.

One day when he was at court, David said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul?” and I can imagine his servants’ expectations. The practice in those days, when a new dynasty came to power, was that all descendants of the former king were put to death. That way, none of them could rise up and claim to be the rightful heir to the throne. But instead of saying, “Bring Mephibosheth to me that I might kill him,” David said that he wanted to “show the kindness of God to him.”

In an article entitled “Mephibosheth and Me,”[i] David R. Reid says that for the modern Christian reader, David represents Jesus and Mephibosheth represents humanity. Just as Mephibosheth had been alienated because of his grandfather’s sin and brought back into the household of the king because of David’s covenant with Jonathan, so we who were once estranged from God are restored by the blood covenant of Jesus. Reid says, “Notice that David took the initiative in searching out Mephibosheth. How characteristic of our sovereign Lord. He took the initiative and found us, not vice versa.” The then points out that all the properties that had once belonged to King Saul were restored to Mephibosheth, just as God restores that which sin has destroyed in our lives.

God calls us to radical forgiveness of our enemies. From the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing (Lk 23:34).” He taught us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us (Mt 6:12).” He reminds us to make peace with our enemies before giving a gift to God (Mt 5:23-24). Otherwise, if we are not at peace with them, our gift is no good. To be at peace within yourself means to make peace with your past. I pray that God will give you that peace today.

[i] March 15, 2010.

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