A theme in my preaching ministry over the past few months has been the power of forgiveness. My messages have considered two aspects of this subject – we need God’s forgiveness and we must forgive others. The best one-word description of the response is “intense.” Dozens of people have lined up after the messages to tell me their stories. These stories resulting from the brokenness their sin has caused are, in some cases, almost too painful to hear. Imagine how much worse it has been to live those stories!
People are hurting. They have been lied to by cultural forces like educational systems, governmental programs, and celebrity influencers. They have been told they can live however they choose, without boundaries or limits, defining right and wrong as they see fit. The siren song of choices without consequences has led them like lambs to slaughter – into spiritual, emotional, and relational catastrophe.
Unfortunately, some Christians – and some preachers – have fallen into a pattern of condemning this cultural phenomenon as their primary message. They are culture warriors, hooked on the news cycle and blogging incessantly about what’s wrong with our country. We can – and we must – reclaim a more important message.
We must do more than point out sinful behavior. We must offer people a means to resolve its painful penalty – both its cause and consequences. We must preach often that God forgives sin. We must teach people how to forgive others, healing the relational messes caused by sin. When we preach and teach like this, we do more than condemn sinners. We offer them hope through the gospel. We offer peace with God and peace among people.
Broken people need healing, not condemnation. Defining sinful behavior is part of our message. Describing what to do about it is an even more important part. Preach forgiveness!