Easter Services were glorious this weekend with such a strong presence of God in the worship, in His worshippers, and in His word. At the end of the 11 am service, Diana Anderson began to sing something like “I’m forgiven so I forgive-them,” and I heard “Forgiven Forgive-them.” This had been the message but in song it was made so simple and so connected.
Jesus came to the disciples who were hiding in fear of being the next ones to be arrested and killed. Jesus came and said, “Peace to you.” He literally joined them to His peace through His greeting – inside – His victory. In His peace, they found peace and experienced Jesus resurrected – something they had never known. Resurrection life so powerful, so overwhelming that the disciples had to see the holes in Jesus’ hands and side to believe. Then gladness and joy filled their hearts.
Jesus declared, “I am sending you – Receive the Holy Spirit. Whosoever sins you remit are remitted and whosoever sins you retain are retained.” Jesus was sending out the forgiven to forgive-them. Not the law to condemn-them, but the Forgiven to forgive-them. The law had condemned all of us under sin; but Jesus had risen and forgiven us all! We, the Forgiven, were to continue giving away His forgiveness by remitting (sending away) sins; but, that is our choice. We can also retain (hold with our strength) sins and they are retained.
Forgiveness is easy if we are aware of how much we have been forgiven. But if we don’t understand that forgiveness is our relationship, our righteousness, our state of being, we will think it’s our new beginning and start trying to live righteously. When we focus our attempt at living right, we become self-righteous and self-righteousness is the enemy of forgiveness.
The problem with being right is that there is no place left to go. So, in relationships, forgiveness is our bases of knowing each other. If we are all wrong then we can all be forgiven, but if we are right there is going to be a fight.
Jesus connected our personal forgiveness directly to our willingness and practice of forgiveness. We can both enlarge the reign of His grace to others when we forgive them as well as expand the reign of His grace in our hearts. Imagine what might happen if we chose to use this authority to forgive? How far could we extend the remittance of sin? Through our our family? Workplace? Neighborhood? Nations?
Let’s find out together – Jesus is sending us, the Holy Spirit is empowering us, and we have all the authority to forgive-them.