Got Questions?

“If you know better but still do wrong because you want to, are you still forgiven if you ask for forgiveness?”

Good question and one that has troubled believers from the very beginning. Even the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans acknowledged “The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can’t do it. I don’t do the good that I want to do, but I do the evil that I don’t want to do.” (Romans 7:18-19). It is this constant inner struggle that dwells within us that makes grace necessary. We cannot achieve salvation on our own, but only through the grace and forgiveness of God can we be reconciled to God. In fact, chapters 5-8 of Romans offer an excellent reflection and meditation on humanity’s struggle with sin and the grace and peace that we receive from God, in spite of our sin (I highly recommend reading and reflecting upon it when struggling with this issue of sin and forgiveness).

In Bruce Marshall’s 1949 novel To Every Man a Penny, Father Gaston, a French priest, needs to hear the confession of a young German soldier whom the French partisans are about to sentence to death. The soldier confesses his love of women and the numerous amorous adventures he has had. The young priest explains that he has to repent to obtain forgiveness and absolution. The soldier answers, “How can I repent? It was something that I enjoyed, and if I had the chance I would do it again, even now. How can I repent?” Father Gaston, who wants to absolve the man who has been marked by destiny and who’s about to die, has a stroke of inspiration and asks, “But are you sorry that you are not sorry?” The young man answers impulsively, “Yes, I am sorry that I am not sorry.” In other words, he apologizes for not repenting. The door was opened just a crack, allowing absolution to come in….”

Neither this example from Marshall’s novel, nor the words of Paul are meant to give us an excuse to do whatever we want but to help us to understand how it is that we can be forgiven time and again. God does not desire to punish us, and is always seeking to bring us back as illustrated in the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7) and the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Our faithfulness in obeying God’s commands to live a life of righteousness, loving and serving God and our neighbor, caring for the outcast and the marginalized should be evidenced in how we live; but how we live does not guarantee our salvation. For this we rest solely on the grace and mercy of God for “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory but all are treated freely by his grace” (Romans 3:23-24).

In our desire to please God and be in right relationship with God and neighbor we should seek to do what is right and live lives of justice and peace. But when we sin, falling short of the mark, and failing in our attempts to live a righteous life, we are encouraged to repent of our wrongdoing, to turn away from the wrong which we have done, seek to make amends for our failures or wrong actions, in the hope that God will indeed be gracious and merciful, forgiving us and restoring us to new life. This is the good news of the Gospel!






























Got Questions?—Several weeks ago, when we heard the story of Thomas questioning (doubting) the resurrection we talked in church about how having questions about our faith can be a good thing. Asking questions about the Bible, our faith tradition, etc. helps us to grow in knowledge and in faith. During that service everyone had the opportunity to write down questions they had about the Bible, church, faith, etc. Throughout the year I will be addressing these questions in newsletter articles and/or sermons. One of those questions was “What determines when Easter is?”