I believe strongly that “cheap forgiveness” is very much like “cheap grace” – and every bit as damaging.
By that, I mean that those who have not been hurt by someone specific have absolutely NO right to talk about having forgiven that person. Only those who have been wronged can forgive – and when someone who has not been wronged talks of having forgiven someone, it only serves to condemn the inability of those who were harmed to “forgive” as easily. What is misunderstood so often is that the one who thinks he has forgiven really hasn’t. Nothing has been done to him, personally, that requires forgiveness – so his forgiveness is a cheap counterfeit.
Someone could argue that every bad action harms lots of people to varying degrees – and I won’t argue against that. However, it’s patently obvious that all harm is not equal and, likewise, that all recovery is not equal. Thus, not all “forgiveness” is equal – since the deeper the damage, the harder the healing and the forgiveness.
If I could teach one thing to those who are harmed only tangentially, moderately shallowly or not at all it would be the realization that those who seem to be unable to forgive cannot, and I mean absolutely cannot, be judged by we who can’t see their hearts and their wounds perfectly. It is the concept that forgiveness of deep wounds that takes a lifetime means more in the grand scheme of things than forgiveness of paper cuts that take an hour. Jesus is the ultimate example not because of the quickness of his forgiveness but because of the depth of the pain and the wounds he forgave – and it interesting to ponder the source of that pain. Yes, he suffered for us – but it is just as real to say that the pain was inflicted BY his Father as it is to say it was inflicted because of us.
Thus, in a very real and very powerful way, he forgave his Father for asking him to become our scapegoat – for placing him in the position to suffer so greatly – to cast him out in a way that is very similar in practical terms to what Janusz’s wife did to him in the 1954 book "The Long Walk" by Slavomir Rawicz. (The book is written as non-fiction, but it might be creative non-fiction - or historical non-fiction, depending on the term used. "The Way Back" is a film adaptation of this memoir. Reactions to the movie vary widely.)
There’s a lesson in there about the pain and suffering each of us endures simply as a result of Adam’s transgression and our faithful step into mortality – and our own need to “forgive God” for asking us to endure it.
Edith Russell: Associate Editor
7 hours ago