BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day
© John Denney 17 October 2005
A New Creation
The big question for the Conservative Party – whether one of the contenders for their leadership has at some time taken hard drugs – has been simmering away for days. The problem for the Tories is how far they can trust someone if he has at some time been weak enough to take illegal drugs. The candidate under scrutiny has added to the confusion because he has not made a clear statement denying – or confirming – it, at least up to the time I penned this Thought.
The question for us is slightly different. Can we forgive someone for wrongdoing, however big or small, however long ago? I guess we don’t give a second thought to someone incurring a parking fine. And I suspect most of us would say that a child murderer has committed an unforgivable crime. But where do we draw the line between something that as humans we can forgive and something we can’t forgive?
Christianity is a faith that relies on new beginnings. The core belief of Christians is that Jesus has wiped out our sins. We have a new start, because our sins have been forgiven. Sins are examples of how we fall short of God’s standards. A crucial part of the “new beginning” process is that we have to acknowledge our sins, and turn away from them. The theological word here is “repentance”. And then, when we ask, God forgives our acknowledged sins. There are as many sinners inside our churches as there are outside them. The difference is that Christians are repentant, and are trying not to do them again.
Something else. There’s a line in the pattern of prayer that Jesus taught his followers – you know, the Lord’s Prayer. We ask for pardon: Forgive us our trespasses, we ask, in confidence that we will be pardoned. But the line runs on: as we forgive those who trespass against us. Whoa there! What that means is that we can receive God’s forgiveness only to the extent that we are prepared to forgive others. So the question for you and me this morning is: am I prepared to forgive that person who has hurt me? Am I ready to reach out and let them know I have no hatred in my heart, only love for them? And if I can do that, I can be clear that God’s generosity of spirit will be far greater than mine.