I remember my VBS teacher asking us if we wanted to accept Jesus into our hearts so that we could live with him forever.
Sure, why not?
Maybe not the most theologically deep reaction, but it was genuine, and so I started swallowing Jesus, hoping he’d figure out how to jump out of my esophagus and make his way to my heart. Over the years I grew to understand that not only was I going to live with Jesus forever, he died for my sins. In fact, he died for all the sins of all the people!
This spring, we are returning the basics of our faith, of cross-cultural work, and of life on the field. Why spend time on such foundational topics like forgiveness? In part, because many of us are wired to keep going and never look back. Never revisit what we think we know or where we’ve been.
When I was a child, my mom and grandma would darn my socks. Small holes could be reinforced so that they didn’t become large holes, and I got a lot more use out of my socks.
Holes exist for each of us in our theology. Which is not a problem, unless we never take the time to explore them and allow God, study, or thoughtful questions to do a bit of darning work.
In our forgiveness workshop series, this part is the one I think you are most likely to skip. In the series, 101 covers the foundations of forgiveness and offers tools you can use with pre- or young-believers. Then you might want to jump to 103 (next month’s workshop) that unpacks forgiveness and others and tackles complex subjects when it comes to forgiving others. So, what do you guess would be the subject of 102?
Now the phrase, “forgive yourself” might give you the heebie-jeebies and sound a bit too new-agey. I get it! If you or I are trying to speak forgiveness into being based on feeling or good vibes, that’s like chasing after a vapor. It’s foolishness.
But do you believe that Christ died for you? That his forgiveness is for you too? That when he asks us to forgive others, that “other” might include you too? So many opportunities for forgiveness sneak their ways into your life on the field.
Do any of these sound familiar?
—“It takes so much energy to live here. I am not reaching out to my neighbors as I should. What am I doing here? People are supporting me to be here, and I am accomplishing nothing!”
— “I can’t learn the language quickly enough. I am here to share the good news…but it is so difficult to communicate! I hardly have the energy that it takes to interact with people.”
—“I feel guilty spending money on necessities. Many people at home have made sacrifices to support me, and I am financially more secure than my neighbors living around me. I want to travel some place for a quick break. But how can I justify the expense?”
—“I fear writing my support newsletter. I have had to lower my expectations living here; I am not keeping my original commitments. How can I share that and expect their support to continue?”
Then this workshop is for you!
Christ died for your sins . . . but sometimes it’s tricky to sort out healthy guilt, unhealthy guilt, and shame, especially as a cross-cultural worker. Knowing the difference is good, but it’s only the first step. Now what? In this workshop, Shonna will help you identify what you are experiencing (healthy? or unhealthy?) but even more, what to DO about it. How can you not only know what forgiveness is (Forgiveness 101) and help others experience it (Forgiveness 103), but experience it yourself. And help those you are discipling to know how to experience God’s forgiveness themselves.
Please, please don’t jump over this crucial 102 piece of the series.