While the history of Valentine’s Day is pretty murky, it has become recognized as a day to celebrate romantic love. This is fine, but when it comes to love it is difficult for us to not consider the agape love which binds us to Christ and to one another in the most profound way. Romantic love is sustained by agape love! What does forgiveness look like in the shadow of the cross?
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins s and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1Jn 1:9
When I graduated from the seminary and accepted my first call, I was exited and anxious to begin serving as a pastor! Shortly after my ordination and installation I joined with other new pastors for an orientation session with our district president.
At that meeting he posed an interesting question: “How many of you love yourself?” As young pastors we wondered about the question: “We are all sinners.” “Self love seems like a bad thing.” “Aren’t we supposed to be modest?” After a few moments of thought we shyly raised our hands half way. After all, “not loving oneself” didn’t seem right either.
President Ellermann reminded us that we needed to know God’s love for us before we could share it with anyone else. We are God’s forgiven people ministering to forgiven people. It is from the forgiven heart that forgiveness in Christ in shared!
As leaders in our congregations, it is important for us to know in more than a cognitive sense, that we truly are God’s loved, forgiven and redeemed people! This exciting and powerful Gospel news is the joy of our lives!
When teaching a class, talking with a friend, preparing a sermon, or planning an event I urge you to consciously remember that you do so from a forgiven heart! Make reference to your baptism, point to the cross and repeat the words from 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he[God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. When we carry unresolved guilt to our tasks in the Church we work without a forgiven heart. The forgiven heart is vital to all that we do in the name of the Gospel! God loves you and forgives you! Let it show!