Forgiveness is God's Justice
Every time I think about the word “forgiveness” I think about what Reverend Samuel Wells had said when he was dean of Duke Chapel,
“God’s justice is forgiveness.” God’s justice isn’t revenge or retribution but forgiveness.
We live in a society that drinks the kool-aid of retribution and punishment. We want people to pay the price for the wrongs that they have committed toward us. And this is the corrupt picture of what so-called freedom and restoration look like.
And the church has also not helped by preaching a one size fits all approach to forgiveness. The same forgiveness that we might offer to a friend, partner, co-worker, or fellow parishioner, over a harmful word or a situation of harm is not the same thing when it comes to those of us who have been abused, harmed, manipulated, or taken advantage of by others. It isn't an excuse to hold unforgiveness, hate, and bitterness but simply to name that the journey towards forgiveness is arduous, difficult, and complicated.
And most significantly that the outcome isn't necessarily a restored relationship or even releasing someone from their harmful actions but for ourselves to be free at least in some capacity.
Jesus himself seems to be consumed with this idea that we need to forgive others and even the audacity to say that we must pray for and love our enemies.
These are some of the themes we will explore as we talk about the petition of the Lord’s prayer, “Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.”
1. Forgiveness is a necessary component of any relationship to thrive. It is what brings the relationships back to an equilibrium when harm is introduced. And at some point along our journey, harm, intentional and/or unintentional happens. It is what keeps us in communion with one another, it is the grace we offer to ourselves and one another, it is the ability to forgive.
2. Forgiveness, in contexts, where the harm manifests itself in abuse can be a lifelong journey. In these contexts, the goal is not to restore the relationships to the person or persons that caused the harm. The goal is to be free, to heal, to live. And it is not overnight. It is a process. It takes therapy. It takes a community that we can entrust our stories to.
We will dive deeper into forgiveness this Sunday andI hope you will gather with us.