Forgiveness is…

Cross DaliWhat is forgiveness? What does it look like? Why is it so important? This is my reflection on what forgiveness is and is not.

Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel
Forgiveness is hard
Forgiveness is saying that it matters and it hurt
Forgiveness is not about forgetting
Forgiveness is not instead of justice
Forgiveness is personal (unless you’re Jesus)
Forgiveness is subversive
Forgiveness is freedom
Forgiveness is radical
Forgiveness is an act of will
Forgiveness is emotional release
Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel

Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel

you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
Luke 1:76-78 (NIV)

Then Jesus took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Matthew 26:27-28 (NIV)

In Jesus we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.
Ephesians 1:7-8 (NIV)

Forgiveness is hard

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. This is hard.
C S Lewis The Weight of Glory

Karen Millington Is forgiveness always possible?

Julie Nicholson author of A Song for Jenny
Struggled with forgiveness, with what she called ‘the easy language of faith that doesn’t measure up when times are tough’. ‘I can’t forgive on behalf of Jenny’

Julie Nicholson’s ‘Song for Jenny’, the account of how a mother and Anglican priest reacted to the murder of her daughter in the 7/7 terrorist attacks. what was so moving about the production was the honesy with which Nicholson described how she felt. there was no attempt to hide the grief and the anger. It was heartbreaking to see her determination to find out exactly what had happened to her beloved daughter, no matter how painful it might be. We were given a totally honest picture of grief that raised uncomfortable questions. Nicholason has felt unable to function as a priest since her daughter’s death because she cannot forgive her killer. …
How do we forgive someone who has taken away one of the most precious people in our lives? How can we darw comfort from faith when all we feel is bleak emptiness?
Church of England Newspaper – Comment 17/7/15

Forgiveness is saying that it matters and it hurt

Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness is not about forgetting

Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. Its a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you dont want to repeat what happened.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Anthea Butler The decision to forgive is rooted in faith. The desire to forget is rooted in racism

Forgiveness is not instead of justice

I have often paused to reflect on the persistent question: how do we restore the moral and social order subjected to such horrific violence? My reasoned conviction, confirmed in turn by biblical revelation, is that the shattered order cannot be fully restored except by a response that combines justice with forgiveness. The pillars of true peace are justice and that form of love which is forgiveness.
Pope John Paul II No Peace Without Justice No Justice Without Forgiveness

Forgiveness is personal (unless you’re Jesus)

what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips. …
I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned; the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.
C S Lewis Mere Christianity

Forgiveness is subversive

There’s nothing more radical, nothing more revolutionary, nothing more subversive against injustice and oppression than the Bible.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The family members of those slain at Emanuel AME astonished so many Americans by offering forgiveness to the racist shooter, Dylann Roof.

There was nothing passive about this act of graciousness, for forgiveness is also subversive. By offering pardon to Roof, said the Rev. Cheryl Sanders, professor of Christian Ethics at Howard University’s Divinity School, the families of the victims demonstrated that there was “something radically different” about their worldview. The act itself “was a radical refusal to conform to what’s expected of you. It’s a way to avoid hating back.”
E J Dionne Liberated by Grace

Forgiveness is freedom

There is evidence people who forgive can heal faster
Rev Dr Alison Gray

Forgiving is good for your health! unlike nursing a grudge
Forgiving is about abandoning right to revenge. Open the door of opportunity to make a new beginning
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness is radical

Here then is the Christian weapon against social evil. We are to go out with the spirit of forgiveness, heal the hurts, right the wrongs and change society with forgiveness.
Martin Luther King

“I forgive you,” said the daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance to Dylann.
Five relatives of the Emanuel church victims stood up one by one in the courtroom, offering forgiveness “You took something very precious from me, but I forgive you,” Lance’s daughter said through tears. “It hurts me. You hurt a lot of people, but may God forgive you.”

Alanna Simmons, the granddaughter of 74-year-old retired pastor Daniel Simmons, “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof that they lived and loved,” she said. “Hate won’t win.”
‘I forgive you’: Charleston church victims’ families confront suspect

Forgiveness is an act of will

forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude
Martin Luther King Jr

Forgiveness is an act of will, not about letting go of the pain
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness is emotional release

forgiveness is the journey we take towards healing ourselves and our world
It’s about saying I’m not going to let you victimise me, through anger and resentment. Let go of that.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel

Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
Luke 24:45-48 (NIV)

Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:38 (NIV)

Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel
Forgiveness is hard
Forgiveness is saying that it matters and it hurt
Forgiveness is not about forgetting
Forgiveness is not instead of justice
Forgiveness is personal (unless you’re Jesus)
Forgiveness is subversive
Forgiveness is freedom
Forgiveness is radical
Forgiveness is an act of will
Forgiveness is emotional release
Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel

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