For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.
It is common when disciples of Christ consider or discuss ‘forgiveness‘ for them to focus on the interpersonal aspect of the practice. In other words, we immediately bring to mind a person or people who have hurt us so deeply that forgiveness and reconciliation seem impossible. One of the ways that we tend to respond to these situations is to focus on the personal benefits of forgiveness. We think to ourselves or say to one another that forgiving others is something I do for myself, so that I am released from bearing the weight of anger and pain. While that is true, I hope in today’s reflection to dig a little deeper into forgiveness and reconciliation. The command to forgive as we are forgiven starts with the interpersonal, but goes much deeper.
Forgiveness is rooted not simply in ourselves and our mental/emotional/spiritual health. It is rooted in the being of God. We do not forgive one another simply for personal benefit, for indeed, if we are completely honest, forgiving others will not necessarily reap immediate benefits. We forgive because love is who God is and reconciliation is the mission of God. reconcilare Latin for ‘bring together again.‘ This is the story that we are told about ourselves and the world. There was separation between Adam and God in the garden. The stories of separation continued with Cain murdering Abel and being sent away. The story we are told is that either through our own anger or despair we chase idols and are separated from God, or through the sin of others (systems, powers and principalities) we are separated from God and one another. The mission of God then, is reconciliation, to bring together again, Creator and creation.
We read in John 14: 10 -12; Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these,
The work of Jesus is the work of God the Father, our Creator. In this passage we hear that not only is Jesus called to do the work of reconciliation, but so too are the disciples, so too are we, called to be reconcilers. The foundation of the practice of forgiveness, is the work of God, reconciling and healing the world. A work we are called to participate in.