Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Forgiveness Project

Earlier this week as I taught a class on the title of my book The Baptized Life, we looked at the topic of baptism and forgiveness. I pointed out that living the baptized life means living a life of joy that comes from God’s forgiveness of us and a life of showing forgiveness to others. It is forgiving others as God in Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).

A discussion followed that led us to talk of those times when the harm inflicted against us is so great that forgiveness seems almost impossible. But then I made a statement that I had not prepared: “As disciples of Jesus, we must get there. It may take us some time to work through our pain, but as followers of Jesus we must get to the place of forgiveness.”

A few days later, while listening to a program on the BBC, I heard someone refer to something called The Forgiveness Project. What was this? An Internet search revealed that this effort began in England in 2004 to encourage people to consider alternatives to revenge, resentment and retribution.
It then occurred to me that the Kingdom of God is the great Jesus Forgiveness Project. In his sermon on the Kingdom life Jesus teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who would harm us. He teaches us to pray, “forgive us our debts (sins) as we forgive our debtors (those who sin against us).”  

In Christ we are those who have been forgiven a huge debt (Matthew 18:23ff). Now the church must be the place where we find a culture of forgiveness, where we rejoice in God’s forgiveness, where we forgive as God in Christ has forgiven us. We must be personally committed to living out and spreading the news of the Jesus Forgiveness Project. Where do you need to begin?

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