Excperted from the book Being Christian by Steve Arterburn and John Shore
There are two modes of consciousness possible for believers: Christ
consciousness, and ‘ me consciousness’that is, our everyday, normal,
human, self-focused sort of consciousness.
When we’re filled with Christ consciousness’when we’re fully with God,
fully open to Christ, fully imbued with the Spirit’s power’we cannot help but
forgive anyone for anything. To be filled with Christ consciousness is to be
filled with love, and pure love forgives as easily as scent comes off a rose.
Modeling this cause-and-effect we have, of course, Jesus himself, who
unforgettably proclaimed his forgiveness for his killers even as they
delightedly crowed at his suffering. (‘Father, forgive them, for they do not
know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34).) That shows the power of
And it’s important that we learn to forgive like this, because it’s
important that as often as possible we ask the Lord to fill us with his Holy
But most of us aren’t usually so overflowing with the Spirit that if we
got mugged we’d be swimming in thoughts of how much we love and forgive the
criminal as he busily clubs us about the head. We’re just not geared toward
that level of forgiveness. In fact, most of us can’t instantly forgive someone
who budges into the ’10 Items or Less’ aisle with eleven items in their cart!
We have our spiritual, Christ-filled mode of consciousness, and we have
our material, self-identification mode of consciousness.
The Spirit of God, and the mind of ‘us.
It’s the ongoing mixing, experiencing, and juxtaposing of the two that
describes and defines the internal life of all Christians.
If with our human mind we attempt to forgive a grievous offense, we’re almost
certain to fail; resentment (however deep it’s buried) is sure to linger. And
even if we try to forgive such an offense by bringing it into the realm of our
Christ consciousness, we will invariably find ourselves still pained by it once
we’ve reassumed that mode of consciousness by which we must, after all, tend to
the practical, everyday business of life.
So the answer to whether being a Christian means you have to forgive
everyone who’s ever done anything unloving to you is: Yes, you must forgive others
their trespasses against you, as God forgives your trespasses against him. But achieving lasting forgiveness requires
both a redeemed heart and a renewed mind. Both have a definite role to play in
the process that culminates in true forgiveness.
Sometimes to forgive someone, all you have to do is take a moment to
understand them’to walk a mile in their shoes. Other times, knowing that you
really aren’t away of what caused another person to act the way they did means
you’ve got to roll up your mental sleeves, dig into your emotional and
psychological warehouse, and keep working in there until you can put together
and then bring into light a full and true comprehension of what happened.
For more help see: Being Christian.