I’m a little stuck here, on just a couple of points.
If forgiveness and reconciliation are different items, scripture goes blooey and entire passages turn into gibberish.
Remember Jesus telling Peter that he has to forgive his brother seventy times seven? That’s nonsense if Peter can tell Andrew he forgives him and never wants to see him again. I mean, how is Andrew going to sin against Peter a second time, by proxy? Email? Carrier Pigeon?
-Hey Jesus, how many times do I have to forgive my brother?
-Once, and then you can tell yourself you feel better about your feelings about whatever he did to you while you live like he’s already dead.
If we can love our neighbor as ourselves by divorcing them from our lives, then 1 Corinthians 13 turns to gibberish. Worse than that, the punishment for the evildoer (shunning and exile) until they repent leads to… shunning and exile, so that forgiveness is externally identical to divine punishment. But somehow according to 2 Corinthians 2 that second sort of shunning is totally going to save the repentant sinner from Satan’s schemes do destroy them with excessive sorrow. Because… reasons… um…
Worse than that, if forgiveness and reconciliation are different things, then how does the forgiveness won for us on the cross lead to the reconciliation with God? I mean, if everyone is forgiven, that’s fine, but forgiveness doesn’t bring reconciliation as a consequence, so I may be forgiven and damned?
Let’s look at the examples of American forgiveness:
Americana Churchianity: Divorce and remarriage is fine, and if you can’t get along with your ex, well, you did your best.
Bible: The Book of Hosea is sort of totally about grace and pursuit of the faithless spouse. Jesus says whoever marries a divorced woman causes her to commit adultery.
If forgiveness can say, “Depart from me, evildoer.” and Jesus’ words are true that we are forgiven by the measure we use, then what if God forgives us as we have forgiven, since we’re using the exact phrasing or intent that Jesus speaks of condemning unbelievers to the outer darkness where there is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth?
Q: But what if someone hurts your kid?
A: :Look at the cross on the alter. What did your sins do to God’s kid?
Q: But not those damned sex offenders, or drug dealers, because Jesus said whoever sins against one of his little ones…
A: Wait, why are you restricting this to the 6th commandment and drugs which don’t show up on the 10 commandments at all? Where does this passage state that this is about the things it’s popular to hate, when according to the Law if your kid curses at you they deserve to die. What about if your behavior leads your kids to break the 1st commandment and stop believing, or your choice of youth football over church teaches them to neglect the Sabbath, and on and on. Isn’t it funny how if you applied that to the whole 10 commandments we’d all be better off in the sea with millstones? Isn’t it much more comfortable for you to restrict this absolute ban just for the sins you aren’t tempted by?
Q: But Muslims will kill us!
A: Jesus said to love your enemies. Romans 2 says that it’s the patience and kindness that lead others to repentance.
Q: But God hates gay marriage! If I bake them a cake I’m betraying God!!
A: And you think he’s happier about heterosexual fornication (sex before marriage like everyone does), because you have matching I/O ports? Do you stop to ask straight couples if they’re believers before you bake them a cake, seeing as how God rejects the idea of marrying an unbeliever?
A: And what is God’s goal. Doesn’t he desire everyone to be saved? How are you going to save that gay couple you’re refusing to deal with? Will they look at your rejection and say, “Gee I want to be like them?” when they should be looking at your love and saying, “I want to love and be loved like they do!?”
Q: But what about social justice! the poor and minorities need government intervention!
A: What about the fact that God clearly states that laws must not favor the rich OR the poor?
It seems like America is so busy being angry and self-righteous (on either side of the aisle) that we’ve neglected God’s teaching that man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires. We like to pretend that Jesus was just kidding when he repeatedly stated we’d be forgiven and judged as we forgive and judge others.
These are just the tips of the iceberg, but they’re the ones I’m stuck on this week.
Until we start putting the Gospel above our culture, instead of pretending our culture is the Gospel, we will have no prayer of winning the unsaved to Christ.