Josh j Smith


forgiveness
September 23, 2007, 8:37 pm
Filed under: society, theology | Tags: , ,

There was an interesting conversation on NPR centered around sexual offenders and their names published for all to see on the internet. There is tension because the life of this sexual offender is forever influenced by this public information, yet this public information is deemed valuable to concerned neighbors and co-workers.

As I understand it, as long as the name resides on the list everyone has the right to treat the person as an outcast. Can the person be forgiven for such a crime? And does forgiveness for this mean the name being deleted from this list? Finally, does forgiveness mean that person should be trusted again?

Forgiveness, too often, is taken lightly. If we were honest with ourselves, we would know that fear drives us to keep people who hurt us far away. So we say we forgive, but in our hearts we know that this person will never be the same to us. Not only are offenders outcast by those they hurt, but those never hurt or will hurt or even know. Outcasts are not a result of crime, they are a product of unforgiving people.

Is it possible that when Jesus challenges us to forgive over and over, that he is actually challenging us to trust and continue to trust that person no matter how much they wrong us? Is it possible that Jesus is challenging us to wipe the slate clean when we forgive people, to treat them as if they have done no wrong? Finally, what would this world look like if we forgave like that?

It is easy to assume the worst. However, maybe the Kingdom of God can be experienced through this radical type of forgiveness. It would be ridiculous if people kept trusting and forgiving, but in many cases that is what Jesus calls to be – ridiculous. We might come to find that the lack of authentic forgiveness is the reason for increasing violence, sex offenders, and injustice.

Forgiveness frees people to be vulnerable. The more forgiving we are, the more people are willing to be vulnerable and confess what makes them inhuman; the more willing we will be to confess our inhumane acts. Forgiveness is a full expression of love that moves us closer to finding out what it means to be human. I am sure that the prodigal son that Jesus talks about, never felt so human than when his father treated as if he never left.

Advertisements