Wineskins Archive

December 5, 2013

Ignore the Fine Print (Sept 2012)

Filed under: — @ 8:33 pm and

By Scott Simpson

Forgiveness, certainly something we need, isn’t only about debt removal. The Greek word connected with the removal of debt or trespasses or blasphemies or lawless deeds is aphiemi, as in “Your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake” — 1 John 2:12. Aphiemi means put away… permanently. This is the kind of forgiveness that requires only one party to act, the one who is owed. If God in Christ has done all that is needed to bestow that kind of forgiveness of debt on ALL of humanity (and I believe He has) then the work of the church is not the work of debt forgiveness. The work of the church, as Paul put it, is the ministry of reconciliation. Variations on the Greek word katalass are translated “reconciliation” or “reconcile”, as in “if you are offering a gift at the altar and remember that your brother or sister has something against you, you should go and first be reconciled before offering your gift” [Matthew 5:24].

Reconciliation isn’t up to God ONLY… it takes two parties to reconcile. My creditor can forgive my debt fully—without me even realizing or acknowledging that he has… but if I’m not interested in coming over to his house to say thanks, to reconnect, to chat about things, then we still have no <i>relationship</i>. God may have exercised <i>charis</i> (grace, unconditional forgiveness) toward me, but if I have not entered into a graceful, loving connection with Him, then I’m still living out in the cold. Having a ledger “in the black” means nothing to me if I don’t hold any <i>charis</i> in my own heart for anyone else, including the one who initiated the unconditional blessing.

So why do Christians persist in making sales pitches for stain removal? I know it’s a bit more theologically complex than this, but they must not realize that there are no more stains. The Creator of the universe has chosen to forgive all debts … that’s the good news! He’s put them away!

If we don’t get this, if we persist in trying to convince people to do this that and the other thing IN ORDER to get sin forgiveness, then we will miss the point of a ministry of reconciliation. The “God” part of the equation is done. What God requires of his people now is NOT something to make the debt forgiveness work (like epoxy glue where you have to combine the contents of two separate tubes before the molecular bonding occurs). God’s gifted us with a clean slate, but God desires MORE than a clean slate. God desires reconciliation, relationship, the loving dance of being in communion with HIS creation, HIS image-bearers, his children.

We have spent so much time and energy over the centuries (and spilt blood as well) in deciphering and arguing the equation of debt removal: How did God do it? What does the cross mean? What actually happens to the sin? How might I lose my forgiveness? What steps do I have to take to GET the sin removed? How should I treat people who haven’t taken the right steps? What should I do to people who are promoting the WRONG steps?

If reconciliation is what God desires—if relationship is the outcome He’d hoped would come from His choosing to erase any and all debts humanity “owed” Him—then what are we arguing about? If ours is a ministry of reconciliation, then our moment-by-moment responsibility is simply to love and connect … love and connect … love and connect.

Seeing and embracing people as family members NOW will help them feel the warmth of being WITH the family they were created into.

If my theology keeps me from embracing humanity as family, then I need to dump it.

Those who know US as an open-armed family will be more likely to connect with the loving God who animates his body with the very love his body extends.

But those who see US parsing the Contractual Fine Print of stain removal and trying to sell them on it, get them to sign on the line, commit before it’s too late… may think of us and of our God in exactly the same way I’m tempted to think of those poor sales people who come uninvited to my door:

“Okay… why is this person disturbing my dinner, and what’s the quickest way I can get rid of him without losing my shirt?”

No Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post.TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

© 2022 Wineskins Archive