A few months ago, Holy Communion received a loan under the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. It made a big difference in our operations and gave us confidence that we could afford to continue paying our bills. With that money largely spent, we are now preparing to apply for “forgiveness.”
“Forgiveness” is a theological word that bankers have borrowed. Financial forgiveness is receiving permission not to repay a debt, but theological forgiveness is so much more.
Imagine what it would be like if God approached his relationship with us in a transactional way, or if we approached our relationships with other people in a transactional way: Every debt must be paid. Every transgression must be avenged. Every grudge must be carried forever. Perhaps, under certain unusual circumstances, and with plenty of explanation, some adjustment can be made, but we should never count on it.
That’s no way to live.
God says through the Prophet Isaiah: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
The Psalmist writes, “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.”
Can you hear the love in those passages? Spiritual forgiveness is all about love.
Christ came to live among us so that we might escape from the hell of transactional relationships. Christ came to offer the ultimate example of love and forgiveness. Christ came to show us the way to reconciliation, a pathway that is paved with forgiveness.
Though businesspeople have borrowed this godly word, we should not let them keep it. Forgiveness is more than permission not to pay. Forgiveness is the laying down of swords, the ending of feuds, and triumph of love.