4 Myths About Forgiveness

The American Christian subculture has some warped views of forgiveness. From crooked church-going businessmen and wife beaters demanding forgiveness as their lawful due to telling bullied teens to shut up and forgive or God won’t love you, it makes sense why “forgiveness” as preached at church is so unpopular.

I have disliked it for many years since this doctrine–like any good thing–has been perverted and abused to oppress the weak in our subculture. We can take advantage of employees, insult the poor, and mistreat wives. Then we act offended when they don’t forgive like they’re “supposed to.”

The truth will set you free.  (John 8:32.) Here are myths we have been taught and believe about forgiveness.

  1. You owe forgiveness to the person who wronged you. The truth is you do not. That’s like saying shop owners owe everyone free merchandise. Did God owe us forgiveness?
  2. You can force forgiveness on someone against their will. No you cannot. You can offer your forgiveness, but often they don’t want it because they refuse to admit they have done you wrong. In fact publicly “forgiving” someone can make a great passive aggressive form of revenge. Because God won’t force His forgiveness on us many will go to Hell despite His great love. Even as He offered His forgiveness to us while we—His enemies rejected it–we can intercede on the behalf of our enemies in prayer and hold a willing attitude to freely forgive them if they’re ever able to ask for it.
  3. Forgiveness will produce a warm tingling glow and euphoria. Just like heroine but it’s a Christian high. You will probably grieve the loss of your hope for justice. Since your life is ruined–it seems–hate is all you have left. The truth is it will provide closure. Like lancing an inflamed abscess it will relieve you of an intolerable pressure and allow healing to occur.
  4. This is more popular with the secular crowd. “You don’t forgive for the other person. You do it for yourself.” With that kind of attitude (It’s all about ME!) forgiving is not even possible since self-centered attitudes run counter to love. Forgiveness is the ultimate act of love.

In the end I realized it wasn’t about me–or my enemies either. The main reason I could not forgive was because I couldn’t believe God loved me enough to forgive my sins. Once I realized He loved me after all it became possible to forgive those who had trespassed against me.

 

It’s about Jesus. He has already sacrificed so much and been so much kinder to us than we deserve. We can’t show Him our gratitude directly.

 

That’s okay. All He asks is that we pay it forward.

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4 Myths About Forgiveness

Sins Are Sins

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I am re-reading Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. Along with The Pursuit of Holiness which Bridges wrote when he was much younger, this is a thought provoking book. Inspirational in the truest sense of the word with a lot of meat to chew on. Not a best seller for that reason.

This is not a book review though. But a comment on sins that slip into the church because we let them slide as unavoidable and therefore okay.

The Word of God says they are not.

I have noticed the sins we are most apt to let slide in our personal lives as Christians and in the churches we attend are the kind I call “dry.” In the big, bad world outside (and in carnal churches) their favorite sins tend to be the “juicy” kind, though there are some dry ones too since some tiny amount of sin cannot be avoided while we live in these bodies of death.

Dry sins are the less sensational kind. The kind Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynn never marketed and Hollywood doesn’t turn into movies.

Petty sins that bring little or no pleasure. Gossip. Pride. Greed. Covetousness. Anger. Stinginess. Cruelty to those “under” us. Spending so much time earning money beyond our daily bread that we neglect time alone with God and human relationships.

We must adopt a zero tolerance policy in dealing with these sins. Thanks to the blood of Jesus we no longer have to let Sin boss us around.

And if you are comfortable in your sin and have no desire to do God’s will you really need to ask yourself, “Am I saved? Where are the fruits of my repentance?”

 

Sins Are Sins

Worthless

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Single and childless forever. At 44 I’m a total failure with no value as a Christian, a woman, or a human being. Why am I still alive when all that makes a life has passed me by? My only solace is people are so cruel and hateful, it’s no big deal if mankind rejects me.

No one gives a rip about anyone. Christians are no worse. A few are better. But they talk about the love of Jesus. And they divorce, slander, and exploit others.

The churches I attend all claim to be pro-life. They vote against and protest abortion. But many who go to church are like Napoleon. They only care about those who are useful to them–and only as long as they are useful.

There are certain folks everyone at church “secretly” hates. They don’t tell them to kill themselves. Cause telling folks to commit suicide would be unchristian.

What is acceptable to Christians is freezing the unwanted out. If they find out later the person died of a heart attack alone they can heave a sigh of relief. Because the misfit won’t bother our Perfect Assembly anymore.

If they commit suicide that’s even better.

“See! Dave must have been a crazy defective to kill himself. Despairing of life and sheer loneliness never cause Normal People to choose suicide. Only nut jobs do that. Since Dave was a nut job, it doesn’t matter that we treated him like roach droppings. Nobody’s fault after all.”

Oh, the humanity! Or whatever you call it….

Worthless

Feeling Good Versus Being Good

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A major problem in the American church today is we have lost our saltiness. There’s no real difference between how we Christians live and the unsaved around us.

It’s not about loving God and what we can do for Him and how He can be served through “the least of these” in our midst. It’s about getting goodies from Him by saying the right magic words when we pray.

My grandfather and father were godly ministers. They preached the Gospel to poor and rich alike. Besides the salvation of souls they sought to bring about spiritual maturity in those who already attended church regularly.

Both of these–preaching to the outcasts and encouraging spiritual growth in the saved–got my dad in trouble. Repeatedly.

Often he was kicked out for no good reason and replaced by Rev. Bubba Shucks who kissed up to the Right People in church or Pastor Phil Anders who was very popular with the ladies of the church. (The husbands of attractive women not so much.) It’s not about substance but shadow. If we look good we must BE GOOD.

According to the Bible, God thinks otherwise. (1 Samuel 16:17.)

Our nation is more shallow than ever. It’s rotting away faster than we can fully realize. As a preacher’s daughter with more than 35 years’ church membership, I see how this rottenness started with the American church. We have lost our unique edge. We are no longer preserving the world around us.

Yes, the church is made up of redeemed sinners. But if we continue to sin away as much as those outside what do we have to offer? And hip, trendy praise bands with fashionable music to make our eardrums bleed with feel good sermons by attractive preachers in “relevant” name brand jeans aren’t cutting the mustard.

Feeling Good Versus Being Good

Care Bearers

 

 

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Jane Bernard lies in a hospital bed hooked up to  numerous tubes and other stuff. Enter three women.

Woman 1: Hi Janie, honey. We missed you at Bible study last week.

Woman 2: Yes. When we heard what happened we just couldn’t believe it. First Bob and your precious little ones….Now this.

Woman 3: After your house burned down.

Woman 1: Yes. I just couldn’t believe it. If something happened to any of my kids I just know I couldn’t go on.

Woman 2: MRSA’s a nasty disease I hear. Glad it’s not me. Be sure to follow your doctor’s orders when you get out.

Woman 1: Poor Bob! 49 is pretty young. Children and marriage are what Biblical womanhood is all about. It’s hard reentering the dating scene when you’re well past your prime. But with God all things are possible and stuff like that….

Woman 2: And they can do wonderful things with fertility treatments now. There’s still hope you can make another baby before you’re all dried up and have failed to obey Genesis 1:28. With modern medicine and prayer there’s still hope, Jane. Online dating is great too. I seen it on a TV commercial. Something called Lonelybusters.com. There was this happy married couple talking about how they met there. Real soulmates. If I had to date now after 30 years of marriage, I’d use that.

Jane: Groans. Bob and the kids died last week!

Woman 3: Yes. That’s real sad.

Woman 1: No need for carrying on like that. God’s got someone new picked out just for you. You just gotta keep a positive attitude.

Jane: I pray and pray. That I will finally die of this horrible disease. Then my torment will end. But God will not even answer that prayer.

Woman 1: Oh Father God! Please forgive Janie’s sinful lack of faith. And just don’t punish her as her depression deserves Father God. It’s obvious why she’s hurting Father God. Sin does that to us. And just please help her repent of her negative attitude before it’s too late Father God.

Woman 3: Amen.

Woman 2: Now depression ain’t always a sin. Maybe Jane’s just a mental defective. That would make her insane but they have medicine for that. I seen it on a commercial.

Woman 1: Jane, are you insane?

Woman 3: Bye Jane.

Trio exits hurriedly. Jane heaves sigh of relief.

Care Bearers

This Blog Needs to Be More Like Its Name

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I noticed my blog has been very negative lately. Some negativity is good because there is a lot of negative stuff in this world. Without God there is no meaning. Without His Son we’re even worse off though. Without the Cross there is no hope since a just God has no choice but to send us to Hell forever for all the nasty stuff we have done, keep doing, and–without His intervention–will continue to do since we can’t stop sinning on our own.

If I were an atheist I would be an utter Nihilist–probably suicidal as well. Yet I am full of hope. Why?

There is no political solution for us. Democrats and Republicans are corrupt because both parties are run by human beings.

There is no  economic solution for us. Communism won’t work–because it requires tireless, self sacrifice of individuals for the common good of others with no hope for personal gain. Those most in favor of this system tend to be lazy, selfish people who only look out for themselves. Capitalism has a better track record, but selfishness  and greed are rotting it from within–so even the checks and balances built into it have gone haywire with all the bribery not just of government officials but media as well.

The nuclear family is not the solution. Marriages keep falling apart, abuse frequently occurs. Among Evangelicals the husband tends to be the abuser. Among secular couples the wife frequently is. Neither is acceptable. There is a reason young folks are reluctant to marry choosing less permanent, unchaste options. There is a reason they are leaving the family friendly churches behind. Not all the cool, hip praise choruses and worship teams can draw them back.

Education is not the solution. Carl Sagan thought education was the answer for what plagues humanity since it can teach us to curb our baser instincts. Sagan left one factor out of the equation. Educational systems are run by human beings–corrupt and fallible.

Ditto for science. Scientists know more than the rest of us, but their superior knowledge helps them twist facts to inflate their own reputations or support agendas that have nothing to do with science. Scientists and educators have to be smart with advanced degrees but goodness is not a job requirement for either occupation. Goodness includes truthfulness.

Do you know where this blog got its name? From Ecclesiastes. Throughout this short book, King Solomon or the Teacher looks around at things “under the sun.” Despite his wealth, fantastic sex life, achievements–in literature, music, scientific discoveries, architecture, and creating economic prosperity for his kingdom, and great health, the Teacher still finds no satisfaction till he is old and realizes happiness does NOT come from within. Or anywhere under the sun. Only over the sun can we find joy or peace. Hope, faith, or love.

When we look up we can hope….

LORD God please save us! We cannot save ourselves.

 

 

This Blog Needs to Be More Like Its Name

I Didn’t Know This Was a Satire

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I came across this site the other day.

https://www.landoverbaptists.net

I can’t provide direct access to the article. It was “God Hates Asexuals.” The alleged preacher rants that even if you are impotent or sterile from sickness or an accident or can’t find a marriage partner, you’ll go to Hell for refusing to fulfill the Biblical mandate in Genesis 1:28.

I though, “Gee this guy is cruel! Whatever causes folks to not desire sex why do these ‘Christians’ have it in for them? Impotency, sickness, and childhood traumas are unfortunate, but they are not sins.”

I googled to see if they were affiliated with the Westboro Baptists. Nope. It’s a satire site.

I honestly couldn’t tell. It looked like one of Al Mohler’s or Russel Moore’s over-the-top rants. Being chaste and obeying God ain’t enough for these guys. You’ve got to have a smokin’ hot wife, lots of green for the offering plate, a MacMansion on earth (over the hilltop doesn’t count now) and at least 3 kids as proof of your salvation. If you’re a woman you’d better BE a smokin’ hot wife.

As a single woman I have agonized and desperately dated with every major online app–not because of sex (though that would be nice) or an empty house but it’s 100% essential for love and acceptance at any church I can think of. When I failed to land a godly Christian husband I questioned my salvation.

Yes Jesus loves me. But His body rejects me. It must have lupus, since it keeps turning on its own organs. Not even for sins, but stupid stuff. Disabilities, ugliness, poverty, and lack of the required spouse and kids Janette Oke promised all good Christian girls if we saved it for marriage, trusted God, and ate our veggies.

I wish I could leave. Sick of how they treat me! (Unknowingly I guess. Their put downs are supposedly funny and their  insensitive platitudes are supposed to cheer me up.) For Christ’s sake I suck it up, hold my nose, and endure church.

Then go home and weep.

I Didn’t Know This Was a Satire