2005-02-21 - Forgiveness
2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
I'm back! I am sorry to have not been able to write for so long, but it turns out that my phone line had been cut, and it took a while for the phone company and me to find a time when we could both be at my house. I work a lot, and it was hard to match times with them. One thing that has changed since I was last writing new material, is that I have starting teaching Theology at a local college. I used to teach at another school and have now begun to do it again. I really enjoy it, and it is a chance to share my faith and commitment to Jesus Christ, the forgiveness He offers from sin as the substitute for the punishment we deserve for our transgressions. The class I am teaching this semester is called Marriage and Sexuality. It is a strange class for a Theology class, but then again, there is a lot about marriage and sexuality in the Bible, so I guess it fits. I am in the middle of 10 hours of lecture on forgiveness (five hours down, five to go). It seems to me that this is really the heart of any relationship. I would like to share some thoughts on this topic, as it is fresh in my mind.
Forgiveness in human relations is needed. I am not telling you anything new here, but there is a difference between the view of forgiveness between Christian relations and non-Christian relations. This is frankly something I could never tell my class, because my class is held in an academic setting (but I sneak it in). Forgiveness in a non-Christian setting is based upon "fixing" the relationship. It's focus is upon "righting wrongs" and getting things back in order. In a Christian setting, forgiveness is always based upon Christ. Christ is where we learn true forgiveness. He "emptied himself" (Philippians 2:7). Christ gave up His rights to offer forgiveness to us. Forgiveness, for the Christian, is a giving up of rights when we have been wronged. And this is 100% connected to what Christ has done for us. Christ gave up His rights, and humbled Himself. This is what we must do in forgiveness. We have been wronged, but we give up our rights of vindication for the wrong done to us and say, "I forgive you". This is a giving up of our rights. It is relinquishing our rightful claims. It is an absurd thing to do. But, as Christians, we must do it. Christ has set the standard, and while we will never meet that standard, we must strive toward it as followers of Christ.
This is hard-core stuff and I am going to go into details as to how to forgive in the future. Forgiveness is hard, and sometimes, sadly, something we cannot do. But today I would like to focus on "Giving up." The one offended, in forgiveness, does not expect reparations. It is not fair (or honest) for the person offended to expect "special" treatment or the opportunity to balance the scale by inflicting the similar misery on the other person. This is not forgiveness. This is not giving up our rights as Christ has done. We may deserve our rights, YES! We do, but we do not claim them, because the Lord Jesus Christ set the example and did not claim His rights as God, but rather humbled Himself.
I want to be practical here. Wherever you stand, forgiveness is unqualified giving. If you are a Christian, or considering Christian thinking at all, for it to be true forgiveness, it needs to be based on Christ and the forgiveness He offers us. The amazing thing with Christ is that His offer of forgiveness from sin is for "whosoever," and that means everyone. No matter what you have done, without exceptions, Christ offers forgiveness. All true forgiveness is based on this, and we will hit on this topic much deeper in the future. I know I have opened a Pandora's box here, and if you are in the midst of needing forgiveness, or giving forgiveness, you are now left feeling like you only have half of the story. Well, you only have 10% of the story, and maybe not even that. If you are struggling, try to remember the forgiveness that is all for you in Jesus Christ. It is free, and it is without question. That really is the true offer of real forgiveness, and it is to be our example.
It is good to be back.
Soli Deo Gloria,