Bam! First question in our new study by Adam Hamilton; what is the definition of forgiveness? In exploring what “forgive” or “forgiveness” means we are starting the steps of understanding how the forgiveness we receive from God through Jesus impacts and influences our lives as well as how the forgiveness we give and receive from each other impacts and influences our lives. We are a faith founded on forgiveness. Through Jesus’ willingness to take the consequence of our sins provides the way for God to forgiving us bringing us back into relationship with God. “Forgiving us for what?” we might ask. There is brokenness in this world and we have called it sin. Now before you click off this page, let’s have a sane conversation about sin. In the past, sin has been used to make people feel bad, to manipulate people. Sometimes the church has used it to their advantage, and I ask your forgiveness for the way sin has been used not for the up building of the Body of Christ but for the tearing down. I am truly sorry for those who have been caught by this focus on sin and have sustained spiritual wounds.
Maybe if we can reframe or re-understand the word, some healing and benefit will develop. What if we understood sin as our denial of the person God is creating in us. What if we understood it as a leaving the path God is laying out for us. As Adam Hamilton points out in his book, Forgiveness: Finding Peace Through Letting Go, “The Greek and Hebrew words most often translated as sin in the Bible refer to ‘missing the mark’. . .or ‘straying from the path’. “ Yes, we have to be honest and admit that we at times are not seeking God, not following God, not allowing God to make us the beings God created us to be. If we can understand sin in this way, identify what it is in our lives that distract us from God, then we take the first step into the direction toward God. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 51:10-11, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.” God continues to create, creating the Kingdom of God here on earth, where justice, peace and wholeness provide the fabric of life. Creating hearts that mirrors the goodness of God bringing about peace.
Yes, we have to talk about sin, the thing or things pulling us away from God’s creative work in our lives. Yet, we don’t get stuck in sin. We are not to dwell on where we have missed the mark or stepped off the path. This is step one. Identify don’t dwell, you were created to move into being created and re-created in God’s image not to get stuck. This does not mean you won’t need time to ponder and spiritual evaluate your life. This does not mean you won’t need time in prayer to uncover the source and it does not mean you won’t need time to discern with friends. This means you don’t let this part of your life be so overwhelming that you feel it can never change.