Saturday, November 8, 2014

On Forgiveness


as Atonement

I've been thinking that, in a sense, forgiveness is making atonement.  Let's muse on it a little.

When Jesus died on the Cross making atonement for us, what did that entail?  It involved Jesus taking upon his body the punishment we deserved in consequence for our sin.  Instead of lashing out on us, Jesus allowed the divine anger against our sins fall on him while, at the same time, God loved His Son and bore him no ill-will.

God was hurt in two ways by each of us for our sins: one, his heart was broken by the mere fact that we sinned against Him who is our Father, in the same way a father would be hurt by the disrespect and disobedience of their child; and, two, he was hurt because he bore the consequences of our sin in the same way a the father does who runs in front of a speeding car that is about to hit their disobedient child crossing the street without permission.

It seems to me that, in the same way, we are hurt by the sins of others in two ways: in the first place, we are sorely disappointed that they would do something that hurts us and, in the second place, if we choose not to take revenge and forgive, we end up absorbing the pain of their sin against us.

Is this not what Jesus did when he died on the Cross, hurt both by the mere fact that we sinned against God and God sought forgiveness rather than revenge, thereby, making atonement in Christ.

I'm thinking that when we forgive someone, we are choosing to, instead of hurting them in revenge, allow ourselves to deal with - absorb - the hurt; instead of making the transgressor feel the pain of his own transgression, we dispense with any pain we may be able to inflict on them and rather take in the pain of their transgression against us and fully absorb it, dealing with it ourselves.

Do you see what I mean?

If we seek revenge or even harshly judge another for their sin, we are refusing to bear the pain they may have inflicted on us and seek turning it on them; we are resisting to bear in ourselves the hurt, confusion, and bitter pain by lashing out on them.  But this is precisely what God in Christ did not do.  God did not send His Son to condemn and take vengeance on sinners but to forgive and to bear the pain that necessarily comes with forgiving (John 3:17).

If we resist revenge and choose to forgive, then we must be prepared to...let me crucified, to bear in our heart and body the ravages of another's sin.  If we choose to forgive, we are choosing to take upon ourselves the pain of another's transgression and to let it have full sway in us, to fully feel the pain sin causes that would have otherwise been inflicted on the transgressor if we had rather chosen vengeance.

Therefore, it seems that for you to forgive is to inflict upon your own body the Cross-marks of Jesus (Galatians 6:17).  To forgive is to make yourself the sin-offering in place of the transgressor, especially if you have never committed the same sin against another person.  You are the sin-offering for the transgressor because you are freeing them from being subjected to the punishment for their sin and taking the punishment due them upon yourself!

Since you are not taking it upon yourself to punish but rather to forgive the transgressor, you are taking it upon yourself to bear the grief they inflicted upon you, and to bear it to the full extent; you are allowing yourself to carry the sorrow their sin has caused by not inflicting sorrow on them; you are allowing yourself to be pierced for their transgressions by refusing to chastise them in revenge, however well-deserving it would be for you to do so.

In short, you are atoning for their sins; you are the atonement for their sin.  Forgiveness seen in this light makes more grave the prayer, "And forgive us our transgressions as - in the same way and to the same extent - we forgive those who transgress against us" (Matthew 6:12).

1 comment:

  1. Wow.

    This is an excellent insight! I think you are right.

    You a good writer and have great theological ideas.