Forgiveness

“You and I are here for just a few decades, dancing on the stage of life.”~Richard Rohr

Sharing faith is far easier than authenticating it with my own application. It comes naturally to tell others about the Hope that finds and refuses to let go; living is the hard part. “You and I are here for just a few decades, dancing on the stage of life in Christ; it is quite a different thing to die to self daily, hoist a cross, and stumble under its load through marriage, parenting, grand parenting, employment, etc. If only I could record my voice and broadcast with an endless loop while hiding from the world and myself in a cloistered hermitage away from all eyes” (Richard Rohr). As a child I displayed a tall narrow poster on my wall of two boys playing basketball above the caption, “Sometimes it’s hardest to share Christ’s love with those who are closest.” Without despairing that truth, my particular disciple’s hurdle is exercising my faith in front of those who know me best, the ones who have endured my outbursts, and questioned my responses, the ones who refuse to look past my faults but love me, blemishes and all. Grace is not escape; it is engagement at the highest level of risk. Forgiveness is the remedy for everything. This is why the chief of sinners was also the most prolific evangelist and church planter the world has ever known. Fortunately for me and you, we are forgiven, not only for past failures, but for all future blunders we’ve yet to commit. Piper calls this “Future Grace.”

The only possible way to avoid hypocrisy and self-loathing is to step ever deeper inside the labyrinth of forgiveness. “One of the Bible’s greatest truths is that Christ died to take away all our sins–not just part of them, but all of them: past, present, and future. This is why you shouldn’t fear that you will lose your salvation every time you commit a sin. If that were the case, you and I would lose our salvation every day–because we sin every day. Even if our actions are pure, our thoughts often are not. And even if our actions and thoughts are pure, we still sin because of the good things we should be doing but fail to do. Never forget: Your salvation does not depend on you and how good you are. It depends solely on Christ and what He has already done for you through His death on the cross. The Bible says that Christ ‘appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself'” Hebrews 9:26 (Billy Graham). We were never intended to wander looking sadly behind, lost in a world of anonymous bridges. Forgiveness begins with believing in Jesus Christ; it flourishes as we forgive ourselves. But which sins are forgiven? “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12/ NASB). Our English Bibles do not grant the fullest sense of the Greek word translated as simply “forgiven.” The Greek tense is a perfect participle, referring to something that has occurred in the past and is continuing into the present. This means that all of the past and present sins of Christians have been forgiven – period, never to be recalled. We are pardoned not because we actively confess our sins each day, but because God declared us “whole” the moment we truly believed. I watched a leaf surrender today to the cold and pirouette to the ground. I felt sorry for the trees, dropping what they worked so hard to nurture and retain. Grace shreds false fronts frayed at the edges and allows me to expose myself to those who know me best, and to the One who loves me most.

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