God’s Impossible: Some Thoughts on Forgiveness

As christians we hear a lot about the love of god and with that it entails that God forgives us of the sin we make that offends God. We give a clap of praise to the one who asks and a clap of praise to God who is willing to grant forgiveness to an infinite man.

Well that’s abstract and on paper as it gets. It is safe to say that we like the idea of forgiving and what implication it downplays to us as human beings. We love the notion that an infinite God would be willing to forgive. But when forgiveness knocks at our door because we have been hurt or offended, we find it hard to comply to what the bible teaches us concerning it.

At the very best our forgiveness is conditional. We forgive when we ‘know’ that the person who asks it will not do what they did to offend you the first time. There is a sense of remorse by that person. Or we forgive when somehow our heart melts at the pleadings of the offender, when the offender relents what he thought was right and now seeing for himself that he had done a grave wrongdoing. Or we forgive if the one who offends us acknowledges our greatness and their utter unworthiness. At best, our forgiveness is conditional.

But with it also comes the point where we make our choices. We choose what form of forgiveness we give. Limited or full. We might say we forgive but we just play lip service. All we want is to exert power over the one who offended us. At that point we conjure up, “there’s the fool who I “forgave,” such a pathetic fool, now he knows who’s boss.” Sound like a good worth of unforgiveness there. But again we choose the form of forgiveness.

But what about the thing that God tells us to forgive those who trespass us? The people who ridicule or accuse us of wrongdoing when it was good that we have done? Our excuse would be that, of course God can forgive, because he is perfect. But this statement is somewhat problematic. We assume that because God is all there is, the perfect one, being forgiving and administering forgiveness is easy. But how is it easy that god is able to forgive when he is perfect as well. The more that God is pure and perfect and holy, the more absurd it is that he will be able to forgive. How tainted is an offence to one who is already pure? In logical terms, forgiveness for a perfect God is contrary to what he is in being.

But this fact, speaks volumes to us. If a God who is perfect is able to forgive (thought in a logical way forgiveness is somewhat contrary) then human beings who are imperfect can also do the same (forgiveness is possible for us because we are tainted, but we don’t want to play the forgiveness game).

What is impossible for God becomes something possible. What is possible for humans becomes something that is not possible.

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