Feet of Clay

“But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.” 1 John 1:9 CEV

“This is my blood, and with it God makes his agreement with you. It will be poured out, so that many people will have their sins forgiven.” Matthew 26:28 CEV

“I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter how terrible those things are.” Mark 3:28 CEV

We talk a lot about forgiveness. It’s the cornerstone of Christianity, right? Through the tribes of Israel and Jewish law, God established rules to give purpose and meaning to the universe. Time and time again, humanity was unable to live up to these rules. According to the laws of the universe, the punishment of these transgressions was death. Christianity flipped the script and God’s forgiveness was granted to all. Unable to be earned, we live in an A.D. forgiven world.

But you certainly don’t see forgiveness very often these days. It seems the blame game is far more prevalent. Perhaps it’s because we haven’t internalized what forgiveness means.

Last spring, the Netflix phenomenon “13 Reasons Why” debuted. Adapted from the young adult novel of the same name, the story of bullied Hannah Baker’s suicide was controversial to say the least. In addition to a bloody and graphic suicide scene, the show asked some tough questions. In an age when teen suicide and school shootings seem to be regularly in the news, the underlying thesis of the show was “What if the shock is just a coping mechanism? What if the reality was something could have been done to stop it and we didn’t do it?” It’s a biting criticism, and was not necessarily well received.

South Metro Denver is no stranger to these kinds of tragedies. Conversations about what happened and how to respond in the future are certainly worthwhile and necessary for society to grow. Stories like “13 Reasons Why” offer an uncomfortable but necessary vehicle to have these conversations. But, as the producers have been touting lately, perhaps it’s not the full story.

Despite the mixed reaction, “13 Reasons Why” was the most googled show in 2017 and instantly renewed for a second season. One of the lines of the trailer for the new season is protagonist Clay speaking into the chaos and saying “it has to get better.”

Not only in the midst of tragedy, but in the stress of daily life, I think forgiveness is part of things “getting better.” The forgiveness offered by the cross is a wonderful gift. Equally wonderful is the forgiveness we can offer each other. But perhaps most precious (and certainly most difficult) is the forgiveness we must offer ourselves.

It’s easy to say “I never saw this coming” or the opposite “This was my fault.” The more difficult admission behind both these statement is “I am human and imperfect.” I, for one, love to play the blame game when I, myself, screw up.

And I really struggle to forgive my imperfections.

But the truths of forgiveness quoted above surpass our sins against the father or fabric of the universe. They speak equally to the times we fail ourselves. For if God can see past our transgressions, who are we to blame our own imperfections?

I think that’s how forgiveness becomes grace.

I don’t have any wise ideas of how to apply this to my own life. But maybe if we, as Christians and human beings, could crack that code, we could really be the light of the world. In an age of scandal, pain, and judgement, living grace filled lives might just the be the key to living, in an A.D. forgiven world.

“God forgives our sins and sets us free.” -Colossians 1:14

Zach Herzog

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