The passages from Matthew 18, where my sermons have focused on these past 2 Sundays, speak of forgiveness as something that goes on in church. Jesus specifically commands us to forgive. It’s just not an option. Christians are forgivers. If we are to be the church, a community that risks bold deeds in the cause of God’s righteousness, then we will need lots of forgiveness. Jesus has invested his life into the church. He wants to make sure it’s a go! Therefore, he demands that we learn the disciplines of friendship with God and with one another.
Our forgiveness begins in the heart of God. The Bible makes it clear that God has a relentless determination to have a family. Forgiveness is one way we are obedient to Christ’s vision for us and the world. In my experience as a pastor, I have found that a major source of anguish and heart-felt prayers is for God to give us the grace to forgive. The death of Christ has not only won for us the forgiveness of our sins, but also releases us to be people who forgive others.
It’s said the practice makes perfect. Well, no one is perfect, but we still need to practice forgiveness. Maybe that’s the reason Jesus instructed the disciples to forgive 7x7 (or 7x70, as some translations state). The more we forgive, the better we are at it. For us to tackle big disputes and potential divisions, we need to have some experience with smaller conflicts. I read somewhere that forgiveness means giving up the hope of a better past. We are formed by Christ’s resurrection. That tells us that God is always making all things new. When we reach out to heal brokenness, we participate in the same creative action as God.