forgiving the sinner sinning

As mentioned in my previous post, what Jesus was proclaiming was something radical and upsetting to those Pharisees. He was proclaiming forgiveness as being possible not only for those who are repentant and who have begun to change their ways…he was offering it to those who were still caught up in the midst of their sins and actively sinning.

Did he ask them if they wanted to be forgiven, and then wait until they turned away from their sinful way and asked for forgiveness, and once he was certain they “really really meant it” and were “sorry enough”, he knighted them “Forgiven”? Nope. Did he gracefully offer them the “credit” of forgiveness, contingent on payment conditions that they would follow after He left, and commit to coming back to check on them to see these conditions had been met? No.

He offered forgiveness. Free, and full of love and IN THE MIDST OF THEIR SINNING.

What was this forgiveness? As I mentioned briefly in my previous post, it was a transformation of what had happened. The event was not obliterated/erased/annulled, because that would undermine the need and beauty of what happens in forgiveness. The event becomes transformed/redeemed as something that is (“forget it, as if it never happened”), and at the same time (“remember it, so that it doesn’t happen again”).

How often have we heard “Oh, I want to forgive _____, if only they’d ask for it/turn from their ways.” Or even “Oh, I’ve forgiven _____, I just can’t treat them as a human being ever again or allow myself to accept that others do.”

When we do forgive someone of a “large” offense, we sometime believe it is our (right/obligation) to hold what they’ve been forgiven of in front of them. But it is not OUR duty to hold on. It is our duty to release. It is the duty of the one forgiven to hold on to the event that has been released in order to know what exactly the future can be freed from.

Which is all good and fine when we’re talking about people cutting you off in traffic. It takes on entirely new dynamics when talking of something much more substantial. But I suppose the larger the offense, the larger the opportunity to communicate the foolishness of how forgiveness works in the Kingdom of God…

(realizing that referring to certain offenses as “large” compared to others only hurts the case of viewing things in a Kingdom light)

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