Sunday, January 28, 2007

Divine Forgiveness

Years ago, when I was still Presbyterian, I was sitting in a Presbyterian church on a Sunday morning listing to the same kind of pastoral prayer that I had heard for most of my life and, when the minister came to the "prayer for forgiveness," it suddenly struck me as very, very silly.

The minister was talking (as Presbyterian ministers often do) about how sinful we were, and unworthy of God's love and grace, and how we were nevertheless humbly seeking forgiveness. But I had by that time come to believe that Jesus meant exactly what he said in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32.), and about how God causes the sun to rise on both the evil and the good (Matt. 5:45). God loves us, and has forgiven us, is forgiving us, and always will forgive us.

The reason that we need to pray is not so that God will forgive us, but so that we will forgive ourselves. The problem is not that God does not love us and forgive us, but that we have not yet figured out how to accept that love and forgiveness.

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