February ’21: Radical Forgiveness
By Etana Tam
The forgiveness of God is a topic we often talk about in church, yet it is something I honestly cannot comprehend. I don’t know about you, but the mere fact that the God of our universe, who is so mighty and perfect, would not only choose to pardon me, but lay down His life for our sins is beyond me. Luke 23:34 is just one of those verses that just depicts Christ’s radical love for us.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Even as Jesus is stripped of his clothes, beaten, and nailed to the cross by his accusers, not only does Jesus forgive them, but He continues to intercede for them. Why? I often have trouble forgiving my friends on trivial matters, let alone trying to forgive someone who wants me dead. Yet this is the God we serve, a God who would trade His life for those who may never even know of or appreciate His goodness. There is something so incredibly radical and seemingly unjust about this scenario. Why would a God who is so awesome and powerful not only choose, but take on the burden that should have been ours to carry? What’s more is that this demonstration of love and forgiveness is found throughout the Old and New Testaments. Nehemiah summarizes it best in Chapter 9 when he writes:
17 “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf … or when they committed awful blasphemies. 21 For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.” Nehemiah 9: 17-18, 21
Despite our sinful nature and unfaithfulness towards God, He continues to be faithful to us. Time after time, we see God extend grace and choose to love us relentlessly even as we choose to bow down to other idols. It is out of the demonstration of God’s forgiveness that we should be spurred on to extend that same grace to others. Our forgiveness is a response to Christ’s forgiveness for us. After all, Christ’s forgiveness is not something that we could have earned nor were we deserving of it, but it is out of His tender-mercy and relentless love, that He chose to lay down his life for a debt that would have been ours to pay. So as we reflect on God’s goodness and compassion, may we follow Christ’s example to not only extend grace and forgive, but pray for those who may have wronged us. Let us, as a church, learn to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)