Sermon: Is fully forgiven possible?
Is it possible for one to be forgiven, fully forgiven during this life’s experience?
To answer this, an experience came to thought. Several years ago as we drove up to a church in eastern Colorado I was surprised to see three crosses standing.
Of course, the account in Luke 23 came to me --
“And there were also two other malefactors led with him to be put to death.
… one on the right hand, and the other on the left… And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Now, as I looked at the three crosses, I suddenly heard myself ask, Which of the malefactors am I? -- the one who honored the Christ and was saved? Or the one who scorned our Lord and did not at that moment experience salvation?
In tears it came to me how it is moment by moment that we are honoring the Christ, -- or rejecting him!
In Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science writes,
“Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.”
As he hung on the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
And we read in I Corinthians 15, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ, shall all be made alive.”
If one feels a burning sense of shame concerning a transgression – either large or small – it is coming to me that it is our destiny through the Christ to be forgiven and made whole.
In The Lord’s Prayer Jesus shows us the way -- “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
To receive God’s forgiveness, then, it is necessary that we fully forgive others.
This can be difficult when to forgive feels like letting oneself or another “off the hook.”
Yet, to forgive becomes acceptable once we fully understand that it is God’s work, not ours, to deal with transgressors.
Seeing this, we can accept that it is not our job alone to make things right. But that “with God, all things are possible.”
If it is oneself who is the transgressor. When one patiently and sincerely seeks to do His will, God will show one how to correct the wrong, how to make things right. And He will give one the courage and the means to obey His leading.
When we turn over to God how to make things right, we free ourselves of the fruitless endeavor of trying to succeed where we alone cannot.
To forgive others frees us of resentment, bitterness, helplessness and despair. It restores to our hearts the life force of knowing God’s love for us, and for all mankind.
To be forgiven ourselves frees us from shame, remorse, and a stained sense of our own identity. We are washed clean. We are born again, pure and innocent. We are able to go forward feeling the presence of God’s love for us.
As I consider all this, it comes to me that it is our Christian duty to stop beating ourselves up, to stop entertaining in our hearts a critical spirit, to stop scorning the Christ -- instead, fervently seeking every moment, to honor the Christ, to fully forgive others. The Scriptures make it clear that when we do, we too can be fully forgiven.