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By STEVEN GANZ
Okay, I forgave. Now what? This is the second part of a two-part series.
Last week I wrote about that long word for forgiveness: Issumagijoujungnainermik. This word means “Not-being-able-to-think-about-it-anymore.” The reason we aren’t able to think about the offense any more is because of the value of the death of Jesus upon the cross. We perceive that, in some way, Jesus’ death was for us — for all humanity. So, not only is the value of Jesus’ sacrificial death seen in our relationship with God, but also in our relationships with one another. Instead of thinking about the how much we were hurt, we think of Jesus’ death on the cross covering over that offense.
Yet forgiveness is not the only goal, reconciliation is also. Reconciliation needs forgiveness in order to happen, because there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness paves the way for reconciliation. Forgiveness, of course, has great value in and of itself. When you forgive, you don’t have to live with the pain of the offense. Forgiveness also clears the air between people. Additionally, you can forgive someone who is dead.
But reconciliation requires relationship — and that relationship must be built upon trust. Just because you have forgiven someone, doesn’t mean that you trust, or should trust, that person. In the dictionary, to reconcile means to restore friendly relations between people, or to cause to coexist in harmony. When we are forgiven, our offenses are not held against us. Forgiveness forms the basis for reconciliation, where harmony and trust can be restored. Reconciliation will take time.
When I was a young boy, I loved to play baseball. One day we were playing ball out in the street in front of my house. I was at bat, and the ball that was thrown to me looked as big as a basketball. I drove it hard over third base — a line drive, right into our neighbor’s picture window, smashing it to pieces. As I said, I hit that ball hard. Not being content with busting a big living room window, the ball sped on and crashed into the TV set, breaking the tube into shards! What was I to do? A 10-year-old boy doesn’t have the resources to solve this! So I told my dad that I broke the window and TV.
My dad didn’t have to, but he went to our neighbors and bought them a new window and TV set. He made it right. I was forgiven. He took personal responsibility for me. I could have been only forgiven, but then our neighbors would have been left with distrust towards me, and my family. Reconciliation completed the work that allowed for harmony and trust to be restored.
This is what God has done for us. Because of the value of Jesus’ death on the cross, God has freely forgiven us our attitudes and actions against him. God did this for us before we were even born. But now God wants us to receive that forgiveness so we can be reconciled to him. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, God has already reconciled himself to us. God made the first step in mending our broken relationship with himself. God took upon himself the responsibility for everyone’s sin.
The second step is up to us. Can we be reconciled to God?
The Rev. Steven Ganz is pastor of Clover Pass Community Church.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.