I have often done very well forgiving as Jesus did on the cross, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” In fact, there have been such major healings experienced related to this approach that it is my go-to stance whenever I am the brunt of someone’s inconceivable actions. It is a fairly easy place to get to since it clearly doesn’t condone wrongful action– still holding a place for the person to do better– while improving the impact on yourself by finding this simple and genuine way to let go of the situation.
But lately, I have been trying to go farther than that. When looking for forgiveness for myself, the above method falls a little short. Some say I am carte blanche forgiven because Jesus died on the cross, but he also reportedly said to those he helped, “Go and sin no more.” So if I’ve realized some erroneous action, and not only regretted it, but reformed in such a way to no longer do it, does that mean I’m forgiven?
What if we’ve sincerely and deeply done all that and are still feeling the effects of a long ago sin, mistake, or stupidity? The phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” has held a clue for me. Am I forgiving in the way that I want to be forgiven?
Yes, I’d like to be forgiven on the basis that I must not have known what I was doing; that is certainly better than no forgiveness and I’m sure it is true that I didn’t have a clue. It makes sense that if I knew how to be better I would be better. But if I really think about it, I want more than that.
I want to be forgiven to the extent that there is absolutely no effect for myself or others for any of my erroneous actions. So how do I forgive others in a way that revises, expunges, erases, and nullifies any hint of wrong-doing? If that’s what I want to receive that’s what I must do for others.
And here is where my new thinking kicks in, which I’m trying to grow into. Think of this: whatever wasn’t the way it should be, never even happened in the Kingdom of Heaven. And the Kingdom of Heaven is not some far off, exalted, power-washed place, but it is, as the Bible repeatedly states, “at hand.” It is within us. It is here and now.
So I’m trying to see, acknowledge, and embrace that special reality as the only truth about others, since that’s what I wish for in return. If we are living out from the Kingdom of Omnipotent Good within ourselves, we no longer fear sin or mesmerizingly do its bidding. And if we can perceive and uphold that Kingdom as present and supreme in others as well- even if, or especially if it is excruciatingly difficult to do so– we will be blessed.
God’s mercy is ever-present and it is clear that no bad effect can remain from any error that has been rooted out, corrected, and forgiven to its very core. I’m trying out being innocent, upright, unfettered and free with a clean slate in every breath, and to see others this way too, regardless of whether or not they (or I) seem deserving.
These are resurrection thoughts! This is a new world to reside in, and I’m just getting my feet wet in it on this glorious day. Please join me on this exciting and transformational adventure.