Have you seen those bumperstickers that say, “Not perfect, just forgiven.”
I’m assuming that anyone who sticks one of these on their car is wanting people to know they’re a Jesus follower. Which is fine. And I guess that’s a pretty good description of personal redemption, because it’s true, we’re not perfect, and we’ve been forgiven much.
But if you have one of these on your car, I have a question for you. Did you really think anyone was mistaking you for perfect? Because they probably weren’t. But this bumpersticker brings to mind a bigger question.
Do people think Jesus expects his followers to be perfect? Because if people think this, it’s probably our fault. We must be giving that impression. Or we’re not doing enough to dispel that impression. And I think it all begins with our concept of forgiveness.
The other day, I was at the dentist with my wife, and the only parking spot anywhere near the dentist’s office had a two-hour time limit. She ended up getting a root canal, and it took way more than two hours.
Now, it wasn’t like I didn’t see the sign. I knew I only had two hours, and I knew it’d been longer than that. So, I knew I deserved a ticket. But when we left the office, and I saw the citation on the windshield, I was still ticked. How dare they? Didn’t they know I was caring for my dear sickly wife? The nerve.
Of course, this is ridiculous. What was I expecting?
When I went in to pay the ticket at Village Hall, I told the whole sad story to the cashier. She seemed very sympathetic. But I still had to pay. She had no authority to forgive my debt. In order to balance the books, I either had to pay the debt or find someone who DID have authority to forgive my debt and convince them to pretend it never happened.
Notice how neither of these choices had anything to do with being perfect?
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POSSIBLE QUESTIONS FOR SMALL GROUP or PERSONAL STUDY:
(feel free to chime in on these questions in the comments!)
- What do you personally need to do to be forgiven?
- If forgiveness depended on a scale with your bad stuff on one side and your good stuff on the other side, how would you be doing?
- What does it mean to “forgive and forget?” Is that even a good thing? Why or why not?