Season 2 - Week 2
“Integrity is not just what people see.”
While nailed to the cross in excruciating pain, seeing what was going on around him, Jesus speaks these beautiful, life-changing words “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”. It does not specify who ‘they’ were but I like that. It could mean the Roman soldiers or even the Jewish religious rulers. But I like that it could also mean you and me. In this cry to his father, I believe he is calling us out of the shame of our sin and failures, into the fullness of his forgiveness and grace.
I have always thought that integrity is what happens when I think no one else is watching. Particularly the things I would tell people that I do, or maybe the things I would tell them that I don’t do. However, I think this passage encourages us that there might be more to it than this. I have realised that it is only through these words of Jesus, through his forgiveness that we are able to recognise our sin and confess our failures freely. The more I think about it, the more I realise this is exactly what integrity is.
It is forgiveness that cultivates and grows our integrity.
In my experience it is often much easier and more comfortable to put on a brave face, to cover up our failures and to brush over our weaknesses. We want to avoid the shame associated with it so we try to hide it. To those we are leading we want to look good, but if they saw behind the scenes, would this still be the case?
Reading this passage, we see that Jesus is crying out for forgiveness not just for the repentant or the apologetic, but for those ‘who do not know what they are doing’. His forgiveness is for all and for everything and through this he invites us to integrity. Therefore, when we are dishonest with those around us, hiding behind a facade, we are implicitly saying that that price he paid wasn’t enough. But as we embrace these words and receive his freeing grace, our failures become a chance not to dwell on our weaknesses but to celebrate all that Jesus has done on the cross.
Our failures become a chance not to dwell on our weaknesses but to celebrate all that Jesus has done on the cross.
His forgiveness is fully embodied in us when we are able to speak of our failures with complete freedom and grace. This is integrity and this is what I believe young people are looking for today, authentic, honest leaders, who will share in the good, the bad and the ugly. It is not easy or simple, but as we become consumed by his forgiveness, our failures no longer have a hold on us; sin has lost its sting.
God is calling each of us to walk in the light of his forgiveness, rather than in the darkness of our shame. I pray that we may know the fullness of his grace that calls us from our hiding place and invites us to integrity.
As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
"To those we are leading we want to look good, but if they saw behind the scenes, would this still be the case?"
Sometimes the answer to that question is yes. YES. That's integrity. But what about the areas that aren't so easy to admit? Martha points out that forgiveness cultivates and grows our integrity. Can you forgive yourself for the times when your internal behaviour doesn't match your external standards?
Read the article again. Whatever those challenges are for you, God has already forgiven, calling you to walk in the light of his forgiveness.