[Forgiving] Love: Christianity’s Nucleus and Glory

“Across my 35+ years of pastoring and preaching, there has not been a topic more powerful, needful, and provocative as “forgiveness” — receiving forgiveness (and forgiving self), asking for forgiveness,… extending forgiveness to others.  It was and is a theme that stirs much emotion and many questions.”

Such are the words I shared with students enrolled in the BeADisciple course, “Serious Answers to Hard Questions” in our last week of work–focused on “forgiveness.”

Through the years, I have amassed a file of stories of real forgiveness.  A few of these made it into videos that I produced in support of sermons (as images can be so much more powerful than words alone)…

      • The first video (produced in August, 2006)
        highlights the powerful testimony of Corrie Ten Boom:

        • The second video (produced in May, 2011)
          conveys a variety of vignettes of radical forgiveness:

Recalling these stories and the messages they supported has me affirming (once again)…

  • that, while there are a lot of questions out there that are “difficult” for the ways they engage our minds and thoughts, the question of forgiveness is troublesome mostly for the ways it wages war with our emotions.  To be sure, there are some critical learnings here–as, e.g., forgiving is not forgetting.  But, it’s the heart not the mind that is the crucial battlefield here–precisely because forgiving is not forgetting!
  • that forgiveness (radical forgiveness) is real and possible in our lives…  Here, I ponder the folks over the years who have told me “you don’t know what he (or she) did to me” or “you do not know what I’ve done.”  Still, surveying the stories reflected in these videos, I can not help but declare 1) that the “unforgivable” that many mention are mere marshmallows compared to the boulders in these stories and 2) that there’s no offense God can not equip us to forgive — either our own or another’s!
  • that forgiving (self… and others… and, maybe, sometimes, God) can be among the hardest easy things we’ll ever have to do in this world and life
  • that here, in the confluence of all these affirmations,
    is the nucleus and the glory
    of true Christianity and its Lord and its Way–

    making confession and reconciliation a crucial dynamic
    (and not an option) in our journeys of spiritual formation,

    making forgiveness (real forgiveness)
    Christianity’s greatest gift and proof
    in and to a broken and hurting world!

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