What is Forgiveness? (part 3)

“How I wish that you of all people would understand the things that make for peace.”
—Jesus (Luke 19:42)

“In everything do unto others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” -Matthew 7:12–14

Forgiveness is a tricky topic. We like to offer forgiveness generically ... "I'm sorry" ... will suffice. We want to receive the offer of forgiveness specifically with some groveling as a sign of true sorrow. 

What we need to understand about the nature of an offense and the offer of forgiveness is the humanity behind it. There really is no such thing as a generic sin. When we sin it is not an offense against an inanimate object. Every prohibition in the Scripture has a person or persons behind it. 

Violating God's commands hurts others and ourselves. When we say we have sinned we must recognize that the nature of the offense is not against the commandment itself but the person(s) hurt by it. 

Commandments are not generic prohibitions because God likes to give rules. Most commandments are a marker of how we mistreat other people including God Himself. 

Therefore forgiveness is not to be generic but personal with the goal of reconciliation. 

In a world of paybacks, retaliations and getting even we see that the world can only be put to rights through real forgiveness of real hurts. 

Brian Zahnd reminds us "The things that make for peace are the two great commandments: Love of God and love of neighbor…but especially the second command. (Love of God is only validated by a co-suffering love of neighbor.) The “golden rule” of evaluating our actions through the eyes of our neighbor is the narrow and difficult road that leads to life and peace. The golden rule is the narrow gate. The narrow gate is not a sinner’s prayer, the narrow gate is the practice of the Jesus way. The narrow gate is fulfilling the law and the prophets by empathetic love of neighbor in imitation of Jesus. When we hate and vilify others for ideological reasons, when we demonize and dehumanize others for nationalistic reasons, when we use and exploit others for economic reasons, we are on the highway to hell — we have chosen the well-worn road that leads to war and destruction. The deeply disconcerting thing is that it is entirely possible to cruise down the broad road of impending doom while singing songs of praise to Jesus. "  

A Farewell to Mars by Brian Zahnd

Larry Pozza