My project on forgiveness is finally finished. As much of a relief as that is, I still find myself thinking about what i've learned and what exactly it means to truly forgive from your heart. I am grateful for the Holy Spirit's help cause it is also even more clear to me that without it forgiveness would be impossible. Last night as I wrote my final reflection paper for the project I began to think about God's gracious act of forgiveness and I was struck by the beauty of it. In the ancient world forgiveness was attained through a sacrifice. The person offering the sacrifice was never the person who also offered the forgiveness. However, this is not the case with God. God Himself offered the sacrifice and the forgiveness on our behalf. For some reason I never fully connected just how strange this act would have been to the Jewish and Pagan world into which Christ came. They knew how the sacrificial system worked. This was weird.
Maybe this hits me harder now than ever before because of the time of year. It is the time of year that we as christians celebrate the first coming of Christ and we remember what that coming initiated. God sent His one and only son into this world as not only a little baby, but a poor one at that. He sent His son to atone for the sins that we committed. The Creator of the universe sacrificed to reestablish the relationship with His creatures that was broken in the garden. He was and is still justified in simply letting us go the way we chose, but in His grace and mercy He refuses to let us continue on in our ignorance and disobedience. In Christ we have the sacrifice for our sins and our only hope of forgiveness. It is a beautiful gift that we must not only receive but also continually remember and be thankful for. It is the gift of abundant and eternal life. It is the gift of forgiveness, the complete wiping away of all our transgressions. It is a sacrificial gift, and it is a gift that we cannot just receive and not give away again. Although we cannot completely wipe away another's sin, we can and must forgive them for any of their trespasses against us. This is one way in which we can reflect the image of the Almighty God during this Christmas season and through out the rest of our lives.
Merry Christmas to you all, I pray that this season is a source of joy and peace for you all as you rest in the knowledge that you are loved, forgiven, and that God Himself came to earth as a sacrifice for you.