Sunday’s sermon was all about forgiveness and reconciliation. As followers of Christ, you and I are under orders to forgive first- even before the people who have offended us apologize. In scripture, Jesus prays that the Father will forgive the people killing him and the others mocking him even though the murder and mayhem are still underway, and no one has said “I’m sorry.” It may be proper etiquette to wait for an apology, but it’s not Christ-like. Forgiveness is our default setting.
Saints offer grace because it was extended to us first. We forgive first in hopes that the kindness of God will lead others to repentance. It’s not grace with an asterisk. It’s not “I forgive you, but…” Like the father of the prodigal son, we have already applied forgiveness to the offenses of others long before we spot them on the horizon, running in our direction to make peace. We have forgiven them before they utter a word. It simply takes too much energy to live with an open wound.
After the sermon was finished, we sang that wonderful lyric from O Great God. The song begins, “O Great God of highest heaven, occupy my lowly heart.” As we sang those words together, one single, vivid image filled my mind.
I could imagine myself inviting the Christ into my life. “Come in, Lord, and make yourself at home.” I could see myself guiding him through the living room, the den, and into the kitchen, even opening the refrigerator door. Then I would show him the bedrooms and the garage. And finally, I would take him down into the basement of my heart and show him the dungeon.
“Lord, I have to say how ashamed I am that I ever built a prison here. But I wanted you to see that I have unlocked the door to this cell, and I have set my captives free. Lord Jesus, please occupy this dark sad place as well, and transform it to a worship center.” That’s all I could think about on Sunday, and it’s still on my mind today.
Lift up the Cross!