Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Forgiv(en)ing


This last Sunday's sermon on Ephesians 4 dealt with a host of deep theological issues. One which we touched on only briefly was the ending of all divisions in the unity which is given by Christ crucified for us. The walls of separation have been torn down, not by our forgiving of each other, but by his forgiving of us. As we each come to the altar to kneel, beggars at the table of God, the playing field is leveled completely. Walking away, rebels who are pardoned, there are no more differences worth division. Whether we are male or female, rich or poor, German or Jewish – all of our many problems, sins and levels of transgression receive one and the same answer of grace in the body and blood of Jesus.

This mercy received and lived in one and the same instant is the core of everything that we are as a people. Yet, Pastor Matt Harrison voices a very real concern in his book Christ, Have Mercy: “As much as we Lutherans harp on the importance of forgiveness, it forever amazes me that we can be so inept, so silent, so unable to speak absolution to one another....We obsess, we stew, we fret, and we grind our axes over one sin committed against us.”

How true this is. Put aside all the times people refuse to apologize or admit they're wrong, and how your first inclination is to hold them accountable and demand justice. Instead, think back to the last time somebody apologized to you. What did you say? “I forgive you”? Probably not. If you're like most of us, you said, “It's ok.” The funny thing about this common American way of talking is that “it's ok” is not only not forgiveness. It's a lie.

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