I was visiting blogs this morning and ran into a most excellent post by paulfg called “God does not forgive. Maybe.” In the post, he tells of a “conversation” of sorts between his two brains, the “Paul Brain” and the “God Brain.” It’s a great way to illustrate the kinds of thoughts that sneak through our minds every so often. His conclusion?
“Because if you pursue the implications of “God does not forgive” … has no need to forgive … it unsettles quite a few other very reassuring foundation stones. Like in a “God just got a zillion times bigger and more incomprehensibly beautiful than the trillion incomprehensible beautiful HUGENESS He already was” kind of unsettling”
Please read this post, if you haven’t already, it’s priceless.
If we really take a step back and look at the totality of God’s love, we will come to a realization that is staggering: When the love of God is in play, forgiveness is a given, even before the offence takes place. Yes, of course Jesus had to go to that cross for sin to be forgiven, but in a sense, that was only necessary for reasons that we might call “legal reasons”. How can we know that? Because God went to so much effort, over a long period of centuries in order to make that happen at just the right moment in history. See it? God had His mind made up even before Creation, that He would redeem Mankind if Mankind abused the free will He would give them. Jesus went to the cross to keep our free will intact, thus we can still choose either to accept the gift of salvation or to reject it. Yet God’s eagerness to get beyond the sin issue remains.
This is simply awe-inspiring if you think about it.
Now, let’s consider this forgiveness thing from our point of view: I have my “Don Brain” in my head, and forgiving isn’t always my default setting so to speak. Oh, in my natural state, I would normally be pleased to forgive someone, once I’ve gotten even, but the notion of forgiving without getting even in some way is still a little counter-intuitive even after being a follower of Jesus for many years. I still need to remind myself that the love of God is dwelling within me in the person of the Holy Spirit. When I take that into account, forgiveness is a given; there is simply not even a decision, it’s automatic. Clearly then, this is part of what it means to become a mature disciple of Jesus Christ, and why becoming a disciple who makes disciples is the ultimate act of God’s love working in and through us.
Oh, and there’s one other little point: Forgiving as a default setting sets us free from the heavy weight we must carry on our backs when we refuse to forgive, hold a grudge, and plot revenge, for you see dear reader, God’s approach to this issue is both liberating and empowering.