So Sunday we did Forgive us our Sins as we forgive those who Sin against us in youth group.
I used the “sin” translation because SIN, I was told years ago and it has stayed with me, comes from an archery term that means “missing the gold mark at the centre of the target.” So really sin/sinning is just missing God’s mark rather than trying to work out what we’ve done wrong. We “all have sinned and fallen short the glory of God.” We’re not bad people, we’re just human and cannot make God’s mark day in day out and I think God finds that ok.
Something I feel I was taught wrongly though was that Forgiveness is conditional. I was taught that God would only forgive me if I forgave others. Now I’m not so sure. Surely if that were the case then that makes God’s love conditional when in fact God’s love is unconditional. God’s love is not based on anything I do, say, don’t do, don’t say, think, don’t think, behave, etc. God thinks I am awesome no matter what. And if is from that basis that I am safe to forgive others.
I watch it with the children I now work with in after-school club. Those who are in a secure place, who trust that we as their play-leaders like them, or from homes where they know they are loved, are much quicker to say Sorry to a fellow after-school club friend than those who don’t feel so secure. It isn’t whether they are or not but how secure they feel in that.
We are all loved unconditionally by God but some of us believe that more than others. As Paul says though that shouldn’t make us want to do more wrong things. In fact that security makes it easier for us to say sorry and try to “hit God’s mark” more often. As one of the young people in the youth group said, because God forgives us it gives us a second chance to make mistakes. I love that. That assurance that we are free to make more mistakes, rather than fear that some adult Christians have that if God forgives them then they shouldn’t make that mistake again.
One of the amazing things that we see if we read the about the life of Jesus is how ready he was to forgive. Not to forgive when that person was sorry, when they forgave others, when they were even ready to be forgiven but to just forgive because that is what true love is.
Some of the last words Jesus says whilst dying horribly on the cross were
Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doingLuke 23:34
These people he was forgiving were jeering him, gambling for his clothes, generally pleased that he was gone. Not at all repentant and asking for forgiveness. Yet Jesus still forgave them with his dying breath.
There is a selfish reason why we should forgive. Not so God loves us more because that is a given. But we should forgive because it is better for us. It is a proven medical fact that people who truly forgive are healthy, happier, live longer, and are more open to the changes in the world around them. They are not fearful, not anxious, and are ready to let others into their lives. Check out what the Mayo clinic says about the power of forgiveness
And if you fancy reading more check out the book “The Body Keep The Score” to see more, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before.
Neither of these things might be Christian per se but they seem to advocate very clearly the importance of what Jesus was teaching in that line in the Lord’s Prayer.