“Forgiveness Never Sleeps LIghtly - Byron Darnall”

Categories: Seeking God First

It’s interesting that I sit down to write a piece on forgiveness.  I feel perhaps least qualified to compel others to be forgiving when I struggle mightily with this concept 1) as a sinful being, and 2) in need of finding forgiveness toward past transgressions…but we come “to knowledge of salvation by the experience of forgiveness” (Luke 1:77).  In the eyes of God one is hard pressed not to see one’s self as ordinary, imperfect, and well disappointing.  Maybe it’s also the struggle to forgive our own selfish view of what we think God to be.  Much of life and sense of self involves feeling successful, feeling prideful and in terms of forgiveness it is much easier or natural to hold on to something rather than letting it go.  However, the very nature of our faith hinges on God’s forgiveness.  His holding on to us in spite of our resistance of letting go.  

Generally speaking, most of our historical, political, and social lives are clouded by wars and violence.  Is it any surprise that we lack the skill of forgiveness from national, cultural, and religious points of view?  The individual and societal view of fairness leads us right into conflict.  Authentic faith though is always on some level or in some way about letting go.  Jesus said, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  Upon discovering what traps us and what keeps us from freedom it’s easy see how integral forgiveness becomes to this process.  

The Gospel clearly states that following Jesus is a narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14).  Additionally, forgiveness is a central theme of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).  There is a clear connection between God’s forgiveness of us and in turn our forgiveness of others.  Maybe the best interpretation (albeit many exist) comes from the perspective that God’s forgiveness cannot be merited, only responded to.  But clearly, there is a connection in the petition between our experience of God’s forgiveness and our attitude towards others.  In teasing this out it is suggested that human forgiveness be seen as a reflection of the divine forgiveness, an intrinsic part of God’s character.       

In translation or correlation to daily living maybe it comes down to this: a faith grounded in the Divine means personal transformation that involves owning our wounds to the point that we do not hand them down to next generations.  Or, as Paul writes in Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”