Finding Forgiveness Where It Doesn't Exist
There are few things in parenting more difficult than sitting down with your kids and asking them for forgiveness. I knew parenting would bring with it a lot of trial and error, but I had no idea just how much I would mess up in the few short years my children have been alive. In those few years, I have experienced a number of humbling moments asking my children to forgive me. In contrast, one of the greatest moments parenting has brought me are the responses of my children to my plea of forgiveness: “it’s okay daddy. I love you.”
Though I have messed up, and continue to do so, I am thankful for the teaching opportunities my shortcomings bring with them. As my children continue to grow I hope that they never fail to understand the importance of extending and seeking forgiveness to and from others. If that is to happen though it is going to take a lot of work on the part of my wife and I because the culture my children are growing up in seems to have abandoned forgiveness a long time ago.
The Unforgiving Culture
Nearly every week a new name appears as part of a public scandal. The person in question either said or did something they shouldn’t have resulting in varying degrees of offense in the eyes of others. What follows is always the same, a Twitter mob is formed and the offender is asked to resign. There is nothing wrong with wanting justice when a wrong is committed, but justice it would seem is no longer enough.
Instead of justice the culture pursues vengeance and in vengeance there is no forgiveness. Every offender is run into the ground, but not just the intentionally malicious. Those who carelessly or accidentally act in a way that is deemed hurtful are pulverized by an onslaught of short sentences and think pieces. Even those who said or did something long ago but have since rehabilitated themselves are not safe. Furthermore, any attempts to try and come back in the present are thwarted with the same mob that threw you down in the first. Sinners in the era of social media are unable to outrun their sins, punished to the fullest extent possible, and given no opportunity for grace or forgiveness.
This is the culture our children are growing up in. It troubles me to think that some nonsense I thought was funny or edgy enough to post to Facebook at 16 could be the very noose that hangs me without trial at 26. Children growing up today do not believe forgiveness is available and I would bet that many do not even know what it is. It is in this landscape that Jesus’ teachings of forgiveness can flourish and thrive if lived by Christians.
A World that Craves Forgiveness
No one is safe from the culture mob. If you have spent any time on line there is something that can be used to incriminate you. Thankfully, it is not the culture that saves or condemns, it is Jesus. In Jesus we have found forgiveness:
“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10:14)
In Jesus our wrongdoings are forgotten and erased:
“then [the Holy Spirit] adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
As a result of this forgiveness in Jesus we have confidence to come before God in faith and hope and the call to push each other to greater actions of love for God and our neighbors (Heb. 10:19-25).
People in our culture need the forgiveness that Jesus provides and if they knew it existed they would gladly take the peace, comfort, and confidence it provides over the fear, anxiety, and depression they are all too often saddled with. The only way they will hear about it however, is if they see it lived out by those who have received it.
The world needs to see Christians who are forgiven. They need to see us approach others in love. They need to hear us praying for those who have hurt us. They need to see us apologize to our children. They need to see us repeatedly give to those that take advantage of us. They need to see the confidence and happiness that comes from a life erased of sin. They need to hear us talk about the God who wipes away the wrongdoing of all that come to Him. In a culture that has forgotten what forgiveness is, draw others to Jesus by generously forgiving all. Through Christians the world will find forgiveness in a place where it wouldn’t otherwise exist.