Naming all the sin around us is not the solution. Exposing all the sin is not what matters. That is not what fixes the problem. Keeping score is not the Gospel. Shaming people and punishing people is not the Gospel. Forgiving sin – that’s the Gospel! Because it’s the only thing that works.
If something’s going to be done about sin, it’s not going to be with laws and commands or with judgments and punishments. Do we really think that what’s wrong with the world is something we can fix with more laws or more creative ways to do judgment? No. Forgiveness is the only way. God forgives sin. And as God’s children and disciples of Christ, we are the stage where that forgiveness is shown to the world. We make God’s forgiveness visible and real to the world.
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” ~Colossians 3:13
Forgiveness is the only way to deal with a sin that’s been committed against you. You can only forgive. Forgiveness does not settle all the questions of blame and fairness. In fact, forgiveness purposefully avoids those things. What forgiveness does is bring people back together. It allows a relationship to start over. It creates something new.
But I think a lot of us get stuck between forgiveness and justice. When somebody does me wrong, I can think of a hundred reasons not to forgive. He needs to learn a lesson. I don’t want to encourage her irresponsible behavior. I was the one wronged; he has to make the first move. How can I forgive her if she never says she’s sorry?
Here’s the deal: justice is not the last word. Justice is not the best word. The last word and the best word is forgiveness!
Forgiveness must be our Gospel response to every person who hurts us or sins against us. Our world has plenty of judges and juries and prosecuting attorneys to say, “You’re guilty.” Who’s going to say, “You are forgiven?” If it’s not us, who’s going to say it? “Your sins are forgiven.”
However important justice is – for the record, I think justice is very important – forgiveness is more important. Assuming the criminal crucified next to Jesus was receiving a just sentence – he admitted it himself that he was getting what he deserved – forgiveness trumped justice that day. Forgiveness was more important than justice. It always is.