“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.”
The heart of the gospel is the forgiveness of sins. Through the forgiveness that is in Christ Jesus we are reconciled to God and we are held by faith in that reconciled relationship now and through death into life eternal.
Prof. Jim Nestingen gives a good illustration of God’s forgiveness when he speaks of how the Lord follows behind us, sweeping up the debris of our past and doing away with it as if it never was. This image of forgiveness has clear implications for our life together in the here and now.
The current Covid crisis and the close quarters it has imposed on us can result in relational bumps and bruises that require a good dose of forgiveness. Also, we are seeing in our ‘woke’ culture these days how the social\political entanglements of bitterness and resentment, utterly devoid of any spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, are pitting people against one another. So let’s take a look at what forgiveness can mean as we actually practice it with one another.
First, a qualifier: to forgive is not to forget. The scars will often remain and they can be deep. At the same time forgiveness can give the permission necessary to allow the healing of old wounds as new, positive ways of thinking and feeling in our relations with one another begin to emerge. To give and receive forgiveness is to refuse to allow the hurts created by the past to be carried into and define the present. In this respect, forgiveness actually enables a new identity both for the one offering forgiveness and the one receiving it. Forgiveness creates space for healthy self-approval and provides the freedom to integrate both the hurts and joys of life openly and directly, thereby making possible genuine reconciliation, new ways of relating, and an open-ended future. Both forgiver and the forgiven are set free.
The forgiveness that our Lord won for us on the Cross has secured for us an eternal future with God. In the spirit and power of that forgiveness we may dare to offer one other a reconciling word, trusting Him whose grace, mercy and love make all things new.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”