Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's a Dark World With No Apologies

I preached this morning on John 3:14-21 and offered the idea that the passage is really more about life now rather than a future heaven. The love of god extended to us in Christ presents us with a moment of decision will we choose to live or perish--not after this life is over but right now. Will we remain in darkness or choose to walk into God's light?

An example I gave is how our culture has lost its ability to apologize--to take responsibility for our actions and seek to make amends when we hurt others. I was working off of an essay by Karen Gibbs in this week's Time where she notes that from AIG to A Rod to the Pope--no one seems to be able to simply admit a mistake and apologize for it. Instead we get scripted phrases like "I"m sorry if you were offended by what I did/said." In other words, "I'm sorry you were such a thin-skinned weakling to actually be bothered by my actions."

If we are to move out of darkness into light, from death into life--not in some life after this one but right now, one way is to begin with apologizing for what we should apologize for. The good news is that the forgiveness of God is just a heartbeat away.

Grace and Peace,



lneely said...

"Lock them up and throw away the key."

When former convicts have been released from prison, after they've paid their debt to society, can they really re-integrate? Or do they find themselves the target of discrimination and social ostracism because of the mistakes they've made in the past? Does that hard-lined attitude not extend towards CEOs and politicians who make mistakes, also?

In our society, one mistake equals self-ruin, and admitting such is suicide.

revpeep said...

ah, lneely, such a cynical view for one so young!

Please do not hear me saying that there are no consequences for honest admission of fault; there certainly are real and painful consequences--depending on one's error--to family, career, social standing, etc.

What I am saying, however, is that failing to admit one's faults and take responsibility for one's actions leads to a half-life of dihonesty, deception and shame.

Social ostracism is a small price to pay for one's integrity and even one's soul.

lneely said...

"Social ostracism is a small price to pay for one's integrity and even one's soul."

Perhaps that's true, metaphysically speaking, but we must address the reality as well. As it stands, it appears better for most people to try to hide their mistakes -- to "not get caught" -- than it is to admit to them and make an honest attempt to make up for them. We see this attitude in politics, in business, and even in churches where one might think (wrongfully) that the fear of God would be more effective. Apparently, the cost of one's integrity and the thought of losing one's immortal soul are no longer enough.

All I hoped to suggest was that it seems to me that an honest attempt to atone for one's errors must necessarily result in an eventual forgiveness. Even the most rigid of Christians ought to agree with this. After all, if forgiveness is not the end result of atonement, then what is the point in trying to do so?

There's obviously more to it than an unforgiving society, but I do see that as a significant part of the problem.

revpeep said...

Among human interaction forgiveness is not always possible--sometimes those who have been wronged are unable or unwilling to forgive. In such a situation, the one seeking to atone for past wrongs can still do all one can. An apology offered and not accepted is better than no apology at all, I would argue.

I've known many people who did all they could to make up for their mistakes even though they were not forgiven by people whom they harmed. I believe such efforts are intrinsically worth something to the one who is trying to change, even if forgiveness is not possible (e.g. the one wronged is dead or cannot be found or has made it clear that forgiveness will not occur).

In terms of a Christian perspective, we cannot atone for all of our wrongs and the scandal of Christianity is that we do not have to, at least as far as our relationshyip with God goes. If one truly admits he/she is forgiven by God then one begins to move from a place of humility in offering similar grace towards others.

lneely said...

Very good points.