Penance and Forgiveness, De Niro style...

Here is a powerful image of sin, penance, and forgiveness.  
*quick background for those who haven't seen 
The Mission... the character played by Robert Deniro (muddy man) is a slave-trader and a murderer.

I love The Mission because it is a thought provoking look at Christian missions, but even more than that is is a powerful illustration of God’s power to forgive and of the change that He can bring to a life, regardless of the evil that exists in the world. 

Cast of Characters
When I watch this clip, I can picture myself as several of the different characters:
De Niro, trying carrying a heavy burden, covered in mud, dangling from a cliff, wondering what will it take to be forgiven.
The priest played by Liam Neeson, trying to let the offender off the hook- even though the offender wasn’t asking for it, and he (Neeson) wasn’t the one who held the power to forgive, trying to stop the man with the knife- even though he didn’t know what kind of action he would take.
The native with the knife, having the power to offer revenge or forgiveness.
The little boy, standing on the sideline, watching it all play out and letting this experience shape his life.
The rest of the villagers, able to laugh and carry on with living.
We could all benefit from the picture portrayed that each one of us has failed, and in our pride and futility we try to earn the forgiveness we need by our own strength. It is only when admit that we cannot go any further on our own strength and allow God to cut away our burden and throw it into the bottom of the river that true salvation comes.

The book of Romans says that all of us are burdened with sin.  We all have baggage.  The odds are pretty good that right this moment there is at least one person who you need to ask for forgiveness and there is probably someone else who is in need of your forgiveness today.  

The Perfect Gift
In a couple of days we'll be celebrating Christmas.  People who celebrate Christmas have gone to incredible lengths these past few weeks to find the perfect gift at the perfect price, packaged in the perfect wrapping paper.  They have bundled their gifts up and trekked across the country to deliver them to their loved ones on Christmas day.  Some people will even give gifts to the mailman, the cat, and the hairdresser!  Within just a few hours millions of gifts worth billions of dollars will be exchanged... but will the best gifts really be given and received?  Will we give out junk or will we give what is really needed?

Half Unwrapped Gift
In the book of Matthew, Jesus gave some crazy gift-giving advice.  He talked about people who went through a similar ordeal to bring gifts to the temple (finding the right thing at the right price, brought to the right location, etc.) but as they were giving the gift they realized that they had a relationship that was damaged.  Jesus says that even if you are in the middle of giving a gift, or possibly even right in the middle of unwrapping a present, if it dawns on you that there is someone you ought to forgive, or someone you ought to ask for forgiveness, that you should put the gift down and go immediately to be reconciled (forgive and be forgiven), then come back and enjoy the gifts and the festivities. 

One for You, One for Me
Maybe the biggest gift you could give someone this Christmas is to give them the priceless gift of forgiveness.  Perhaps the best thing you could do to start the New Year off right is to lay your baggage and sin at Jesus feet and take Him up on His offer of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is really at the heart of what Christmas is all about.

The glory of Christianity is to conquer by forgiveness. ~William Blake.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Powerful thoughts! The power of "forgiveness" is amazing...We love you, Love Mom (Black)

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