Forgiveness “involves changing our relationship to an offense through understanding, compassion, and release.” – Linda Graham
What is the Theology?
As this article demonstrates, there are so many aspects of forgiveness: identity, fear, safety, compassion, power, relationships, guilt, shame, and many other important categories. These are all topics that the Church can address. The imprecatory Psalms remind us that it is okay to feel anger while penitential Psalms reminds us of the need for all of us to receive forgiveness. The stories of Joseph, David, and Jesus offer examples of a greater concern for reconciliation than on saving “face.” And the prophets demonstrate the pursuit of justice that accompanies God’s forgiving love.
What to Consider
- Think about a time when you suffered wrongdoing. What barriers prevented forgiveness? Were you able to overcome those barriers? If so, how? If not, why?
- What barriers might Jesus have had to overcome in order to offer forgiveness? What is the role of the Spirit in overcoming barriers to forgiveness?
- Think of a situation where it was more difficult to forgive than usual. What about the situation made it more difficult to forgive? What were the barriers that needed to be overcome?
- What is the relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation? Can you have one without the other?
How to Go Deeper
- Have a member of the congregation share their story about how they were able to offer forgiveness. Invite them to focus on the barriers they overcame before offering forgiveness.
- Start a support group for those who have been hurt or victimized and have been unable to forgive. You might consider having a trained therapist facilitate or available as a reference for those who might benefit from one.
- Use the story of Joseph to discuss these three barriers to forgiveness. You might even consider making this into a series to discuss each of these barriers in more length.
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Which Contributes More to Forgiveness, Sympathy or Free Will?
Article by Michael McCullough (2013)
Read the Full Article
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