To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” ~C.S. Lewis, An Essay on ForgivenessI ran across this quote on Twitter the other day and somehow it caused something to click in my head: My concept of forgiveness was not nearly holistic enough.
I had somehow compartmentalized forgiveness. It was one of those assumptions that I didn’t realize I held until just then: without knowing it, I guess you could say I’d been thinking of forgiveness in chronological terms: we turn around and change the way we think (repent), God forgives, and he gives us new life. But I now I’m wondering if God’s forgiveness—what he did in Jesus—is not so much an action that begets new life but more like a synthesis of dynamic movement, like an implosion of woven plans towards Life that is now exploding outward.
There is a force working towards death and destruction in this world, both within us and without. But from the very beginning, God has been relentless working towards routing that insidious darkness from us and his creation. In some ways, history is like an imploding star. The gravitational weight of God’s plans suck and race in towards Jesus and then explode outward—and Love, Light, Life and Right-ness swallow darkness, evil and sin. Here in the second half of the Story, darkness lashes out against its fate, but it is doomed. And, mind-bogglingly, God weaves even its destructive and lethal lashing into his saving, life-creating work. Life will out. Death cannot prevail.
In that imploding explosion that is Jesus, that which is broken in us—the darkness that eats at us, rots us out and continually pulls us away, puts us at odds with and separates us from God and each other—is healed. It is not simply overlooked or pardoned but completely swept away as we are made new, the way we were created to be with the Spirit of the living God in us. Could it be that God’s forgiveness is not an act that begets new life—that God’s forgiveness is new life?
I looked up the essay from which the above quote is taken, and I was struck by Lewis’ observation that part of our problem in forgiving others is that we don’t believe we are forgiven ourselves. Perhaps it also stems from our lack of comprehending a more holistic understanding of forgiveness—and what it means to be new.
But then, I’m just kaleidoscoping.