Lenten Devotional: March 16th
The Forgiveness of Sins
Do you remember "Love is never having to say you're sorry?" No offense to the movie Love Story, but I think we all know deep down that this statement is a load of hogwash. Love is usually all about saying sorry.
Love is wanting to say you're sorry.
Love is actually being sorry.
Love is forgiveness.
Listen, there is no greater love than God's love through Jesus Christ. I think most of us do know this in a basic sense, even if we have a hard time getting our hearts to believe it. You are loved. Really. Not only are we loved, but we are loved by Jesus, the son of God... God in the flesh. Jesus is the only one in position to judge us. It is Christ's opinion of us that matters, and Christ is all about second chances and forgiveness.
That ticked off a lot of people in his day. They asked him why he associated with sinners and gentiles, and in response he told a story about a father who had two sons. You probably know it. It's in Luke 15, and it's usually called "the prodigal son."
In it a young son demands his future inheritance, squanders it, and in shame comes crawling back to his father. Before he can get a word out, his dad RUNS to him (which was unheard of) and accepts him back into the family. The older son is angry and when he confronts his father, the father tells him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found."
And when the disciples ask Jesus, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?" (Which in biblical times was a sort of code for "a lot of.")
"No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven." (a lot times A WHOLE BUNCH!)
I try not to use the phrase, "The Bible clearly says..." but truly friends, the Bible really wants you to know that Jesus loves you and that Jesus is one forgiving guy. Jesus offers forgiveness for our sins. Each week we make our confession and then we are reminded that just like the father who picked up his robe to RUN to welcome his son home after he humiliated his family and lost his money, we are loved by a God who runs to us throwing out forgiveness even as we stumble over our "I'm sorry."
And the strange thing is, that throughout my ministry, I've met a couple of people who believe they are somehow the exception to God's forgiveness. That yes, we are loved and Christ offers forgiveness, but that what they have done is somehow so terrible that Christ can't do it; that somehow our redeemer who died for our sins has drawn a line they can no longer cross and their repentance will fall on deaf ears.
That's not how this works. Christ is who Christ is, and Christ is love personified. Christ is forgiveness in human form. That's pretty great for us, and I absolutely assure you, you are not the exception. You are loved, forgiven and redeemed.
Christ our Savior, we let you down. We turn away from you. We ignore your teachings. And every time we raise our face to you, you run to kiss our head. Thank you for the forgiveness you offer us. Thank you for loving us even when we struggle to love ourselves. You are our salvation and hope. Amen.
Rev. Kelly Staples, Associate Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church