"Your sins are forgiven"

There is a universe born every 8 seconds. Every child conceived is an act of creation. Three big bangs: Insemination, conception, and birth. The father provides the necessary materials, and then stands back while nature does the rest. From a single cell...Boom!

It is not a "piece" of God that is in every newborn child, it is all of God. God is not an item to be sliced up and shared out. Every piece is the whole, and the whole is not diminished.

At birth, the cord is cut and the drift begins. The child continues on its constant quest for independence, and the parent/child relationship embarks on its journey of "letting go". Parents are not very good at this letting go. We cling on because of our own fears and short-comings.

There is another letting go taking place as God also allows the child gradually to drift away. What distances us from God are those baser elements - helpful in small doses, but poisonous when too much. Central to all of these is shame. Shame is the keystone. Unlock that and the rest will follow. I will be so bold as to say: Find the source of shame, and we are home and dry.

Every experience and event takes the child further from God to a greater or lesser degree. In the Bible this separation is variously described as a mountain, or an abyss. The wider the abyss - the greater the mountain - so the more frightened, embittered, guilty, ashamed, and angry we are. God's allowing the separation is the owner of the field "letting [the wheat and the weeds] grow together." Jesus summed it up in his parable of the prodigal son. It is the father of the prodigal giving him his share of the inheritance. The father remains on the lookout. He sees his returning son from far away.

Throughout this drifting, God is present. He observes everything. He sees it from without and from within. He is the paper upon which it is written. He is the backdrop. He is there for every experience, every event. Every heartache, every rejection, every punishing situation. He was there. He understands the impact, and because he understands, he forgives.

Jesus did not say, "Your sins are going to be forgiven." They were not waiting for this man to engage in one awe-inspiring act - for which we shall all forever be indebted to him - in order for sins to be forgiven. He said, "Your sins are forgiven." The forgiveness was ever present. It was always, forever, always had been, and always would be. The shrewd had already comprehended this.

God is not disgusted, shocked or sickened by anything we do, think, or say. He does not turn from us, push us away or reject us. We have not been thrown on to the pile marked "irredeemable". These are entirely human responses.

The problem is not God's forgiveness, it is that we cannot forgive ourselves. Because of this deficiency, we despise God's forgiveness. Or, it is something we relentlessly pursue, never sure we have done enough to warrant it. The man/child needs to learn to let go of these misconceptions. There is only completeness when it is man and God in union. Jesus recognised this separation, he had experienced it, and the reunion. He was able to say, "I and the father are one." In the meantime, God dwells in man like a yearning. We know that something is there, but out of reach. There is a hole, a yawning chasm.

The only way we can forgive ourselves is by understanding ourselves. See ourselves the way God sees us - as we truly are. To understand means to forgive, and to forgive means to let go. Primarily, to let go of shame.

Jesus not only told people "Your sins are forgiven," he made them believe it. They felt at ease in his presence. He was completely non-judgemental. With him, class, race, and religion dissolved and fell away. He was so good at it he became an international phenomenon. Because of this he was loved, and he was hated.

We cannot imitate this ability to say, "Your sins are forgiven" if we have not forgiven ourselves. We forgive others as we ourselves have been forgiven. We love others as we love ourselves. Until then, we will continue to be prejudiced, or judgemental, angry, and afraid.

When we fully appreciate the meaning and impact of the fundamental truth, "Your sins are forgiven", we will know the meaning of freedom, and faith, and love.