For a long while, this is how I thought about forgiveness:
—————————- * Forgiveness = Reconciliation
(Yes, I’m a huge nerd). In my mind, there could be no forgiveness if there was no repentance: when repentance = 0, the equation breaks down. Repentance, and not forgiveness, was the star of the show as far as I was concerned. I lived by this rule, making sure to seek forgiveness when I felt I had done wrong, but also by withholding reconciliation if I felt there was inadequate remorse. My equation worked well – until my father died while we had unresolved issues. I suddenly had to either find a way around my equation, or at 16, deal with unresolved anger for the rest of my life. It was only then that I began to wonder if forgiveness really was the gatekeeper protecting reconciliation from unrepentant sin.
The alternate hypothesis to get around my problem was to just let it go. The problem I had with that is it seemed so unjust and unfair. How could you forgive someone who didn’t even ask for it? As I get older (i.e. an experienced sinner), I start to wonder if forgiveness and repentance are even related at all. Perhaps forgiveness is more about reconciliation than repentance. It can free us from the burden of having to contemplate justice in our seeking and giving it. We can ask for forgiveness for even the most heinous of sins but can also grant it even when we are gravely injured. The beauty of reconciliation lies in its ability to give peace – the type that surpasses all understanding. I’m going to try to live my life as if there is a very simple, linear relationship:
Sin + Forgiveness = Reconciliation
Friends and members of our Christ Church family have prepared these daily reflections as a means for you to consider how forgiveness informs your faith walk during this holy season. They are a richly diverse group from many different geographies around our nation and globe, formed by a wide variety of traditions.