Every Sunday, we start out our service with Confession and Forgiveness. It usually goes something like this. We recognize that we have sinned against God and against each other. We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.
Then, a miracle happens. The pastor proclaims forgiveness to us. This past Sunday, Pastor Jay said: “In the mercy of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake, God forgives us all our sins. As a called and ordained minister of His church, and by His authority, I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all of your sins, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” It’s truly a miracle when our sins are forgiven, because no natural law or order would point to forgiveness. Our sins are completely wiped away. This is earth-shattering. This changes everything.
And then what do we do? We walk out of church and point to someone and say, “Look at them. They’re ____.” Fill in the blank with worthless, hopeless, helpless, whatever, but we take our forgiveness and shove it back in Jesus’s face because he said it’s for everyone and we don’t see it that way.
In 2nd Corinthians chapter 6, Paul writes, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain” (verse 1).
Our sins have been forgiven and we have been made partners with God. When we individualize forgiveness and say it’s not for everyone, we receive that partnership, that grace, in vain. It’s not for us to judge but to make disciples. It’s not for us to reject but to accept and forgive, because Jesus accepted and forgave us despite our sins. He wiped our sins away – he rescued us – and now it’s our turn to do the same for others.
It’s not only Pastor Jay who can forgive sins. We all have that power. We can all forgive each other. So don’t receive the grace of God in vain. Instead, share the miracle of forgiveness. If you meet a sinner on the road, forgive them in God’s name, for you are God’s partner and that is your responsibility.