Allen Raynor Weblog: “The Essential Nature of Forgiveness” (Pt. 2)
(Dec. 17, 2018)
The world struggles, and has always struggled, with the question of what to do with Jesus. He is both good and bad to them. He is good because of His love, acceptance, kindness, etc. But He is bad because to follow Him a person has to admit things about themselves they do not want to admit. On one hand the world realizes that merely receiving Jesus into their lives is not as simple as “adding Him on” for strength, support, and satisfaction but requires a total life change. On the other hand, they do not want to make that total life change, but somehow see danger in spurning Him altogether. Therefore, many try to search out and walk some sort of imaginary middle ground path.
For Jesus to be Lord of your life means you ask Him to take control and the world is not really ready to totally “surrender” control to Him. People want to maintain control of their own lives and seek their own pleasure(s). In order to ask Jesus for forgiveness, a person has to first recognize their need for forgiveness and then ask Him for that forgiveness. No more hiding behind the tired excuse of “Well, I think I am a pretty good person.” An unsaved person (one still lost in his/her sins) sees themselves as being the center of his/her own world/universe. Jesus frees a person from that bondage to exclusive self focus!
A great theologian was once asked what he would say to a lost human being if he only had an hour with him to tell this person how he could have eternal life. His response was that he would spend the first 50 minutes or so trying to convince them of their own bondage to sin and of their own desperate condition. Then spend the last 10 minutes presenting Jesus. While this may seem a little strange or out of balance, the point he was trying to make was that Jesus quickly becomes the obvious answer when people get over that major hurdle of realizing they actually need Jesus! That is where the real challenge lies This last Sunday and this next Sunday will see millions and millions of Americans not in church. The simple reason is that many, if not most, do not really see a need to be there. The world can even display confidence in their non-attendance of church. Confidence however, never meant anyone was correct. We have all known plenty of people who were “confidently” wrong. The need for every human being is the same – to be forgiven by God.
Matthew 6:15 says “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” We all need to be forgiven; forgiven by God and forgiven by other people. I try to do things right, treat others right, etc. but I fall short and still mess up. When I do, I have to go back to people and ask their forgiveness. In doing so, I am reminded again of the many, many things I have been forgiven for by other people, but especially by God. The world is not preaching forgiveness. The world is getting a lawyer. Attorneys are advertising on billboards, television, and radio. “Forgiveness” does not seem to be a word that resonates well with their profession. Police officers are setting speed traps and waiting in the wings to catch speeders to write tickets; political operatives are working intently to dig up dirt on political enemies/opponents; scammers are scheming and conniving as to how to bilk people out of more and more money then to run and hide. Ironically, none of those mentioned above want the same thing done to them as what they are doing to others. Lawyers do not want to be sued, policemen do not want to receive speeding tickets, political operatives do not want dirt dug up on them, and scammers do not want to be scammed! They want to be forgiven of their indiscretions, misdemeanors, shortcomings, or necessary measures associated with their jobs. The world does not live by the “Golden Rule” (Mat. 7:12) The world and its attitude reminds us of the parable Jesus taught about “The Unforgiving Servant” who was eager to have his transgressions overlooked and be forgiven but he selfishly wanted to hold others to the letter of the law for a comparably smaller offense/debt. (Mat. 18:21-35)
Through the unfolding of this parable/story, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that God’s astounding forgiveness is the basis for all Christian forgiveness of a brother or sister. When we keep the cross of Christ, and the forgiveness of sin/transgressions, in the forefront of our minds it becomes much easier for us to forgive our neighbor. We must never quite get over the shock and awe of being forgiven of our own sins. Living day by day mesmerized by the incomparable love of Jesus and His forgiveness of us changes everything about how we view others. Let us remember of Jesus “He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away; and now I sing a brand new song – Amazing Grace the whole day long, Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.”
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor