Recently I had a conversation with a friend in which we both raised a bunch of things that we’d been upset with each other about for a while. It was really good to be heard and for him to apologize, but what surprised me is that the real healing for me came in hearing how I had hurt him, in apologizing and in him offering his forgiveness.
This struck me as really significant. We all have the desire to be forgiven when we have done something wrong, and the desire to know when we’ve done something wrong so we can repent of it. True repentance is very different from the sort of free-floating guilt and shame that all of us deal with to some level or another, and which can be quite debilitating. This is a particularly significant delineation in the Christian concept of sin. I am a sinner (original sin, which afflicts us from our birth into Adam and Eve’s legacy) and I have and do sin (specific sins of commission and ommission). But Christ’s death for me has wiped away the stain of original sin, and all I must do to receive forgiveness for my own sin is to ask. If we have repented of our known sin, and asked the Spirit to convict us of any sin we’re unaware of — or too stubborn to admit to ourselves and God — then we are all set! i.e. clean, forgiven, justified and pure in the eyes of God. That nagging feeling that we are bad, or that what we do is bad or, worse, not good enough is NOT the voice of God. The conviction of the Spirit is a clear, specific voice, and resolves into joy when we repent.
Thank God for forgiveness.
And on a lighter note, I continue to enjoy Boston’s billboards: