5/11/16 Will (click here for video) about 35
At our grocery store café area I found a man named Will working on his computer and asked if I could interview him for my outreach blog, which I write to provide encouragement and advice to my church and other Christians in sharing the Gospel. Will was very gracious in agreeing to be interviewed, and I could tell from a few comments he made as I set up my table cameras that he has been involved with several non-denominational Christian churches, so instead of my usual question about eternity I just asked him to share his faith journey, which he did.
I love to hear how God uses believers to play many different roles in helping bring unbelievers to faith in Jesus, and Will had a wonderful story of how God took away all the guilt that he had been unable to get rid of for years in a more formal church setting. He described how no religious actions ever seemed to be enough to give him peace from the guilt for all his sins, but I was a little troubled by his explanation of how he was able to get rid of that guilt: he said "I forgave myself". I explained how our sins are primarily against God, so forgiving ourselves wouldn't be our primary need but rather to be forgiven by God. Like King David said when his great sins with Bathsheeba were finally exposed - "Against You (God), and You only have I sinned!" - we all primarily need God's forgiveness, which could only come at a great price - His Own Son, our true Pearl of Great Price.
So with our need for God's forgiveness, is it also important that we “forgive ourselves”? I was wondering just what Will meant by that, so I asked about it. Will had grown up Catholic, and he knew that Jesus died to save him from his sins, but I think his need to "forgive himself" might have been a reference to the feeling that he must do something more to be forgiven, that repentance and faith in Jesus just seemed too easy and that he must need to add to Jesus’ payment with some sort of penance or something.
To have to “forgive oneself”, then, would mean that one believes Jesus' sacrifice was not worthy enough to pay for our sins, that one must somehow be worthy to have that forgiveness. But Jesus, being the perfect sacrifice as God’s Son is infinitely worthy to pay our sin debt, and his last words from the cross were truly amazing – “It is finished”. It is paid for, our debt has been forgiven, there is nothing more we can or need to add to what Jesus has already done for us. We really can’t truly forgive ourselves of our sin, we just need to simply receive the forgiveness Jesus offers us. Whether for Will’s faith and/or for people he may share his faith with in the future, I hope I helped clarify that in our relatively short conversation there at the grocery store café. (For a video of this conversation in it’s entirety, and the full collection of all my outreach conversation stories and videos, got to my blog at www.EverydayClub.blogspot.com)