You were violated, betrayed, or someone has committed some transgression against you, your family member, neighbor, community, the law, or government, and they must seek forgiveness, then you or someone else will determine what price they must pay for their betrayal or transgression.
Forgiveness is a complex subject to address due to the wide variety of complications spread throughout the landscape that make up forgiveness. There are two levels of forgiveness. There is forgiveness from the creator or God and forgiveness among us earthly inhabitants.
When we examine forgiveness from a spiritual perspective, one cannot help but see how the whole concept gets muddied up by religious perspectives, and there are many. Since my history stems from a basic foundation of Christianity, I have a particular vein that I follow. However, as a coach and counselor, I consider all perspectives universally valid.
Even so, religions, especially Christian-founded religions, could find better ways to manage forgiveness among their followers. I find myself in the process of trying to mitigate the damages caused to followers by religious individuals and their organizations, who have been deeply wounded and suffer accordingly. Imbued with this perspective, a more enlightened person could approach this idea of forgiveness differently.
Unfortunately, religion, in general, is all about separation. You see this all the time; for example, we religious folks are good at saying, “We are better than them,” and, “They are not like us,” therefore, “They are bad and should not be associated with,” or deserve some worse fate.
Regarding forgiveness, the religiously-inclined like to control the methods of forgiveness. The Christians inherited this from their forefathers, those of the Jewish persuasion who were very big on maintaining separation, accusing others outside of the fold of being unworthy, and managing who would be entitled to forgiveness and what prescription would be required for redemption.
Interestingly, I don’t see any of this exemplified in the love of Jesus mindset. In the mindset of the love of Jesus, forgiveness is central. Jesus exemplified forgiveness through his teachings and actions, emphasizing mercy, compassion, and grace. Offering it freely without having to be asked for it or to do anything in return for it. If we could embrace forgiveness following the model outlined in Jesus’ example, it would look more like,
Given Freely and Unconditionally
Jesus forgave without conditions, showing that forgiveness should be extended even when it’s not deserved.
Jesus forgave despite personal pain or injustice, teaching us to prioritize reconciliation and love over resentment.
Offered Repetitiously, Without Penance for Failure
Jesus taught the importance of forgiving others not just once but repeatedly without requiring penalty for missing the mark, illustrating the endurance and depth of forgiveness.
Freely Given Regardless of Transgression
As an example of a radically extreme type of love, Jesus’ forgiveness went beyond societal norms, challenging us to love and forgive even those who harm us.
A Gateway to Transformation
Jesus believed in the power of forgiveness to bring about change and healing, both for the forgiven and the forgiver.
Overall, Jesus’ model of forgiveness encourages us to embody compassion, extend grace, and seek reconciliation in our relationships, reflecting the boundless love of God.
Today, Forgiveness Has a Different Face
Present-day forgiveness is rooted in justice and fairness, where forgiveness is a response to foster repentance or restitution. It’s often transactional, requiring the offender to take responsibility and make amends before forgiveness is extended. This mode of forgiveness is a strict part of traditional religion and is also represented in steps 8 and 9 of the 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Jesus’ Contrasting Forgiveness
The forgiveness of Jesus contrasts modern approaches to forgiveness and is grounded in unconditional love and grace. This is to say that forgiveness flows from a place of compassion and mercy in the love of Jesus mindset. It’s not contingent on the actions or attitudes of the offender but is freely given out of a desire for reconciliation and restoration.
Could Our Churches Learn from the Love of Jesus Mindset?
What if our churches could learn to grasp the concept of the love of Jesus mindset and forgiveness? How do you think the world would respond to a church that conducted itself like Jesus did, rather than the religious establishment of His day that He desired to distinguish His ministry apart from? Unconditional love and forgiveness would have a differential impact on unbelievers, with an inclusive approach rather than an exclusive one.
The love of Jesus mindset creates a unique approach to forgiveness, challenging the notion that forgiveness must be earned or requested, inviting us to emulate his example by extending grace even when it’s undeserved. This approach emphasizes the transformative power of love and forgiveness to heal relationships and cultivate a spirit of healing and reconciliation.