“I forgive you.” When did you last speak those words aloud to someone? Not merely the implication of forgiveness with “it’s okay…” or “no worries…,” but a confident acknowledgement of wrongdoing and the simultaneous negation of it. I forgive you.
It is a phrase that has come to exist almost purely within the physical confines of the church, spoken almost exclusively from the pastor to the people. Rarely do we see either the locale or the direction of it change. Yet, the words are infinitely important. I forgive you. The undeserved forgiveness that we receive from God through his son Jesus Christ is literally everything.
Yet in the daily life of a Christian, we not only struggle to forgive others, but when we do, we oftentimes neglect to use the actual words “I forgive you.” “I remind my folks here a lot at church that that proclamation of forgiveness is bold in our day,” remarked Rev. Paul Koch on this week’s episode of Ringside, “It’s entirely different than saying to your spouse ‘hey no big deal’ when they say ‘I’m sorry, I screwed up’, versus ‘I forgive you’. It has a whole different weight to it.”
That proclamation of forgiveness, the echoing of the mercy and compassion God bestowed upon us, spoken into the life of another person is one of the most powerful things we can do for one another. As co-heirs with Christ, baptized into his death and resurrection, living in the freedom of his salvation and promises, the individual Christian should be where forgiveness is located. We should be the place to which our friends, family, co-workers, and Zoom buddies can turn to hear “I forgive you.”
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
The words “I forgive you” are not reserved for Sunday mornings or confined to the sanctuary. It is not to be implied or danced around, nor withheld from a repentant sinner. The power and necessity of hearing these words spoken to us through the pastor in the stead and by the command of our Lord each week is undeniable, but the power of forgiveness does not wane as you move away from the altar. We in turn must daily be a source of abounding forgiveness for others.
Say it with me now…I forgive you.
This article is a brief examination of the “metaphorical and theological rugby match” that was this week’s episode of Ringside Preachers. Listen to Rev. Joel Hess, Rev. Paul Koch, and guest Rev. Dennis Matyas as they duke it out over the efficacy of protesting, your internal vs. external identity, children who stray from the church, and more on the full Ringside Preachers episode, “Intersectionality and Preaching with Dennis Matyas”
Ringside Community College NEXT WEEK!!
“THE NEW GODS OF OUR POST-COVID WORLD”
Join the Ringside Preachers in-person for our first Semester of community college in Ventura, CA! Drinks, discussion, music, and an education that you can’t get anywhere else.
- “The god of happiness” Rev. Joel Hess
- “The god of safety” Rev. Paul Koch
- “The god of social media” Rev. Ross Engel
- “The god of scarcity and abundance” Rev. David Rufner of 1517
May 5, 2021
Grace Lutheran Church, Ventura, CA
RSVP to reserve your spot