by Robert C. Frank
The cross, reminding us of the death and resurrection of Jesus, is seen around the world on church steeples, in homes, on clothing, and on chains around the necks of the followers of Jesus. It is seen so often that it has become almost invisible and forgotten as the symbol of God’s forgiveness. As a result, the importance of forgiveness is easily ignored even though it plays a central role in our current civilization.
Teamwork is an essential part of every social relationship and forgiveness is vital for successful teamwork. In order for us to do the best we can day after day we need to have peace within so we can concentrate on the activities of each day. We have to learn from the past and move on. Peace within comes from praying for God’s forgiveness and then truly accepting it. The tape recorder that keeps playing the message of guilt over and over in our head is stopped.
Understanding our own failures and asking God for forgiveness makes it easier to forgive others when they don’t do things perfectly. Instead of constantly criticizing others it is more important to help them find positive ways to improve their lives.
Forgiveness, however, is only realistic when change occurs. For example if someone keeps smoking cigarettes after saying they are sorry, their lungs will not heal and their life will not improve. Breaking bad behavior patterns usually requires the help of other people so it is important to seek that help.
Life can be beautiful and peaceful if we use the cross to remind us to ask God for forgiveness and then be ready to forgive others. (An edited version of an essay originally posted in February 2013)
Robert C. Frank
Author of Christ’s Team