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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hugs and Forgiveness

Can you hug somebody you don't trust? Can you hug somebody you don't love? These are the questions I have after reading Miroslav Volf's Exclusion & Embrace. It is  challenging work still, 16 years after publication, and it causes me to wonder if the world will ever change. After all, this is what we seek.




But what we often get is this:



Weird, yes?

I have been around long enough to hold that evil is intractable. But don't we have to allow the desire to want forgiveness to be hanging in the air? I am not worried about actually being forgiven these days, I fear we may not WANT to forgive anyone these days...Our hearts have become so hardened that we can no longer even imagine a world where forgiveness is possible...

I am talking about more than just humility at your prospects. To say that "I don't know," or "Don't ask me," or "What can I do about it?" is not forgiveness. Forgiveness is the one thing anyone can do...and of course, that means we rarely do it.

Our Christian tradition doesn't always help in this area (although the irony of that statement is overwhelming).  Many people use the forgiveness they have received from God through Jesus Christ as some sort of chit that frees them from the responsibility of forgiving anyone or anything, including their own selves! Just because God forgives you doesn't mean you are not freed to forgive others?

This is not really a plea for us all to get along! I am not interested in that, especially if it means that we have to dumb down who we are or hide our differences and our disagreements. I want us to be different...

But where I want us all to be the same is in our desire to want to embrace everybody (even if we can't or won't). I wouldn't mind seeing a little regret that we can't embrace somebody who disagrees with us instead of arrogant pride that we won or petulant moping that we lost. I wouldn't mind if we wistfully waved from across the courtroom at our opponents, not trying to soften them up for an appeal, but rather at the tragic state of affairs that brought us to the courtroom in the first place.

The cross of Christ is about forgiveness not because we do it, but because we cannot and do not do it...The forgiveness is a gift, something we have received in spite of our best intentions...the cross frees us in its stark glory to see that the embraces we seek are encompassed by the largest embrace: God's love for all of us.

Doesn't this hug sort of make our reluctance to hug others seem a bit whiny?



May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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