Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Gift of Forgiveness

 Several years ago Karen Armstrong, the excellent writer on religious subjects, was instrumental in initiating the Charter for Compassion, an inter-faith statement on commitment to developing a world in which compassion is a guiding principle. As a Christian who is convinced that this is both true to the teachings of Jesus and other religions I signed my name to the project, and I still support their expanding work. 

One of the programs offered by Charter for Compassion begins online today and it's called The Gift of Forgiveness. The advertising suggests it will be worthwhile for:

  • Anyone who is tired of harboring anger, bitterness, regret, resentment and sadness.
  • Anyone who wishes to unblock the barriers that keep them from living their best lives.
As these state, there is a theme that forgiveness is for ourselves, which is true -- to a point. So many people are consumed by the inability to forgive themselves and others. 

While I support thoughtful teaching on forgiveness I feel that Christian forgiveness is much more than self-healing, as important as this is.. In our faith there is also the central theme that God has forgiven us through the sacrificial love of Jesus, the Christ, so we too are called to forgive. This forgiveness may seem incomprehensible to the world at times, but it is the way of radical, compassionate love.

This past Sunday our son Isaac preached, virtually of course, about forgiveness, and it was a good reminder that Christ's ministry and his reign are radically different than what the world often clamours for. In the toxic climate of grievance and revenge we witness around us these days it is so important to uphold forgiveness and compassion in all its expressions. 

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