Sometimes we are just like Nicodemus, on the inside and sure that we have made it. Other times web are just like the [Samaritan] woman, on the outside and completely unmade, isolated, needing what only Jesus can provide - a grace that does not ignore our sin but is greater than our sin. His is a truthful forgiveness: he does not pretend that what we have done or left undone is any different than what it is, but forgives anyway. … Such grace can do the same work in us and for us. It is grace that can bring us from the shadows of our isolation, and save us from isolating others (Steagald, 79-80).
Scripture: John 8:31-32 (GNT)
“So Jesus said to those who believed in him, ‘If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
Today's reflection reminds me of how important forgiveness truly is. Thomas Steagald asks us to consider our response to the following observation: “everyone believes in sin; the question is whether anyone really believes in forgiveness.” That’s a powerful statement.
When I first thought about that this morning, my mind was drawn to a situation that has had me a little irritated lately. Probably my favorite story, my favorite movie of all time has been Beauty and the Beast. As we all know, the new live action movie came out this past weekend, shattering lots of box office records. Prior to the release of the movie, Franklin Graham, who seems to consider himself to be America’s moral compass, took to Facebook to encourage people to boycott the movie. He did this because he had heard that there was a moment - seriously just a moment - in the movie where it could be inferred that a certain character was gay. Claiming that the liberals were trying to push their gay and lesbian agenda, Mr. Graham called on people to keep their innocent children away from the film.
Now, I know that what irks me to begin with about this is that I love the story and this movie, and I don’t like someone dissing my loves. But I’m also troubled by Mr. Graham’s emphasis on sin over forgiveness. The irony is not lost on me. Beauty and the Beast is a story of two people who find each other and learn to care for each other despite what we might call ugliness, brokenness, or maybe even sin. So it occurs to me that perhaps Franklin Graham understands more about sin than he does forgiveness. To me, for someone who is well-known and holds such great potential for sharing the light of Christ, it is sad that all he seems to want to do is point out the darkness.
Imagine what the world we would like if we Christians trumpeted our belief in forgiveness over our belief in sin.