If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them? John 22:23 (MSG)
Learning Forgiveness – The Sin Series – Part 7
In his book, Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, theologian Cornelius Plantinga said:
“Sin is culpable disturbance of Shalom.”
Shalom is the Hebrew word for wholeness, peace, and blessing. Shalom is how things are supposed to be.
But things aren’t as they are supposed to be.
“We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). There have been many disturbances of shalom. Some that we are responsible for, some we are not. And others where we remain (blissfully or ignorantly) unaware of our culpable contribution.
And the fix? We’ve focused on “sin control” to the point where some faith communities, institutions, organizations, religions, groups, have demonized things that aren’t sins. Things like anxiety, anger, and even pleasure (as per the previous three posts). Sin is our enemy and perfection is our goal. And this approach has got us repeating history and destructive behaviors, landing in the middle of nowhere. But what if I told you sin isn’t a deal breaker?
Perfection is unattainable.
And you know what? It’s not our job to be perfect.
Jesus, supernatural manifest in human form, had the power to do anything. He could have saved Israel from the Romans; he could have vanquished his enemies by any means, violence, force, politics; he could have “won.” He could have avoided the cross. But Jesus decided to do something else with all of his power and might and strength:
Life isn’t so much about not sinning as it is about learning forgiveness.
Things aren’t as they should be. They haven’t been for a long time. But dear friend, you will tie yourself up in knots trying to be perfect. And the divine isn’t asking you to be. Jesus showed us how to bring healing:
“Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34)
If the cross is the picture of what we have done to God, and what God has done to us in return, then like Marianne Williamson said:
“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.”
Sin is a huge word that carries much weight. And for good reason. There are things that we (humanity) have done to each other since the beginning of time, that are so grave and vile and heavy, that no other word encapsulates the severity and consequence of those actions. And while forgiveness is somewhat easy to write about, it’s a whole other ballgame when you practice it in real time. Some things are easy to forgive, others, not so much. They are the work of a lifetime. But what other work could be as holy and sacred?
Forgiveness is a catalyst for resurrection. For Jesus, forgiving those who killed, abused, misunderstood, betrayed and murdered him, brought about new life in HIM. So today, rather than focusing on not sinning, practice forgiveness. For sins committed against you, against those you love, against the vulnerable and hurting and marginalized. For your own sins, too. Forgive yourself. It starts IN you.
John tells us (John 20:22-23 MSG) that when Jesus appeared to his disciples and friends after rising from the dead, he breathed into them and said:
“Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”
Written by Liz Milani