“Human living as it is normally pursued is an escape from reality. The gospel message is a recall to reality, revealed as a mystery of forgiveness.”
–Sebastian Moore, God is a New Language
Friends and I were talking about forgiveness just the other night. A mutual friend has dreadfully hurt us and her children and grandchildren, and we have felt pretty entitled to be angry and unforgiving of her actions and subsequent life. I think we have been living in our own “escape from reality”, covering our pain and anger with self righteous condemnation of another’s very offensive sin. But if I had to stand before the judgement seat of the Father today, I don’t think “Lord, I have not forgiven my former friend because she doesn’t deserve forgiveness” would satisfy our Perfect Judge, because I don’t deserve forgiveness, either. None of us does. Remember this part of the Lord’s Prayer? “… and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us”. How does my lack forgiveness toward my friend look to God in light of His wonderful son’s prayer?
I need to face the reality of this situation, in the strength and mystery of Jesus’ gift of forgiveness of my and my friend’s sins. Does my forgiving her make everything alright with my old friend, heal the wounds she caused? Does it restore her to her children and grandchildren? Will it make her change her life? No. But it does mean that I realize my sins are just as revolting, or more so, to the Lord as hers. We are both sinners. We have both fallen far short of a sin free life. We both need a savior, and only perfect, sinless, compassionate Jesus can save us.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matt 18:21-22