Lent, Week 1: forgiveness breaks the rules

One last thought on forgiveness this first week of Lent.

Forgiveness breaks the rules.

I have been thinking about that all week long, how forgiveness only happens because somebody did something wrong.  Somebody now owes somebody else because of what they did wrong.

  • They borrowed too much money, and they can't pay it back.  The bank forgives the loan.
  • They broke their marriage vows and had an affair.  Their spouse forgives the affair.
  • They broke the parent rules and used their kids to meet their own emotional needs.  Their kids go to therapy, mourn the loss, and forgive their parent's failure.

Forgiveness breaks the rules.  It says the debt is no longer owed.

This is what Richard Rohr has to say:

"God is always breaking God's own rules to get to this person, to change this situation, to transform this event...  You do realize, I hope, that every time God forgives, God is breaking God's own rules, and saying relationship with YOU matters more than God being right!"

This is what CS Lewis calls "a magic deeper still."

And how it works in the real world is something like this: 

"Forgiveness is not about forgetting.  It is about letting go of another person's throat . . . Forgiveness does not create a relationship.  Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their minds and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible.  When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no relationship can be established . . .  Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive.  But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation . . . Forgiveness does not excuse anything . . . You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely.  And then one day you will pray for his wholeness."  William Paul Young, The Shack

We need to sit with that for a while as we look toward Week 2 and salvation.

Print Friendly and PDF