Forgiveness has been a hot issue for me this past year. We all go through times when we have to deal with this issue, and for some reason it seems to happen all at once at times. Charlene has mentioned to me that she’s been learning that part of what it means to follow Christ is to learn, as he did, the cost of taking on yourself the sins of others. That was a new thought to me, and it’s not one that you normally hear in our circles. I was surprised to find her thoughts echoed this morning as I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship:
As Christ bears our burdens, so ought we to bear the burdens of our fellow-men. The law of Christ, which it is our duty to fulfill, is the bearing of the cross. My brother’s burden which I must bear is not only his outward lot, his natural characteristics and gifts, but quite literally his sin. And the only way to bear that sin is by forgiving it in the power of the cross in which I now share. Thus the call to follow Christ always means a call to share the work of forgiving men their sins. Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian’s duty to bear.
Pretty profound stuff when you think about it – and I am thinking about it.