Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Forgiveness and reconciliation are related, but they are not the same. For reconciliation to take place, forgiveness is a prerequisite. But without something in addition to forgiveness, reconciliation will fail to happen. I will explain.
When harm is given in a relationship between two people, that relationship suffers damage. This results in a division of mistrust and injury. We speak appropriately of a broken relationship. And so long as the provocation continues, or is not apologized for, the wound and dysfunction continues.
The injury to a relationship needs healing. To be sure, the offended party in the relationship must be able to forgive. But a restored relationship and the mending needed is dependent on something from both parties! From the one having given offense, or still offending, a couple of things are needed. There obviously needs to be an end to the provocations. There also needs to be an acknowledgment for having wronged the other with an apology. In Christian terms, we call this “asking for forgiveness.”
Of course as Christians we know in no uncertain terms that we are to forgive others for their sins against us. Our Lord simply stated it this way, “If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6:15). There is no wiggle room here. I think we can assume Jesus means what He says!
Now forgiving someone who has, or who continues to, injure us is well-nigh impossible! But if God expects it of us, He will also equip us to be able to do so. The job will still be hard, but it will be doubly difficult if we think forgiveness means reconciliation. Without the offender ceasing their provocation and asking for forgiveness, we are not asked to feel warm and fuzzy about him or her! Rather, we are asked with God’s help to let go of trying to return injury. Instead of wishing harm, we are to pray for the offender!
Since You Asked…
Why is the Triune Name of God repeated so frequently in our worship services?
The mystery of the Trinity is one of the most distinctive elements of our Christian Tradition. Christianity is not alone in claiming to be monotheistic (belief in one Supreme Being, one god)(belief in one Supreme Being, one god)(belief in one Supreme Being, one god). But Christianity holds that this One, True God has revealed himself to us as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Scripture teaches that God the Father has revealed himself through God the Son and in God the Spirit. Only the Son can be seen, and only through the Spirit are we enabled to believe in the Father and the Son. And so we often invoke the name of the Triune God in the mystery of our faith.