A crucifixion – forgiveness

By Dave Henning / February 21, 2023

“Most of us have prayed [the Lord’s Prayer] in some way before.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we might have said the right words but our hearts were praying something altogether different.  And understandably so, because forgiveness is a crucifixion.”- Rich Villodas

In Chapter 8 (“The Gift of Forgiveness: Honestly Breaking the Cycle of Offense”) of Good and Beautiful and Kind, Rich Villodas observes that we possess two agonizing options when we experience hurt.  To forgive or not to forgive.  Most likely, either option involves a painful undertaking.  Therefore, Pastor Villodas stresses, how we deal with forgiveness is important.

However, Rich notes, the world sees forgiveness through dualistic, either-or eyes.  As a result, these simple options present themselves:

  • wholehearted, immediate forgiveness
  • principled unforgiveness

Thus, Pastor Villodas puts forth a third way.  A way marked by lament, anger, grace, and forgiveness.  Rather than characterized by what the author terms modern sensibilities or cheap reconciliation.

In addition, the core of forgiveness consists of interpersonal and interior elements that must be held together.  Possessing a generosity that confounds the world, the forgiving person bestows an act of grace to an undeserving person.  Furthermore, as Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf notes, selling and buying, not giving and receiving, mark our society.

But Volf also described the essence of the interpersonal nature of forgiveness.  In Free of Charge, Volf wrote:

“By forgiveness, we release [the offender] from the burden of their wrongdoing.”

In conclusion, Rich underscores, forgiveness clearly recognizes wrongdoing, but refuses to continue the cycle of offense.  God delights in forgiveness.  So, when we forgive, we imagine God in glorious ways.

Finally, forgiveness contains a profound interior component as well.  We gain an inner freedom that prevents the wound inflicted from another to serve as the primary and permanent point of reference we relate to the world.  To root ourselves in love, we must give ourselves to this often lifetime of work.

Today’s question: How do you see forgiveness as a crucifixion?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Forgiven, but still in prison”

About the author

Dave Henning

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