Christians universally agree that we are all sinners. Each one of us has done and continues to do things that break the laws of God. We fail and fall short daily. The good news of Jesus is that God offers forgiveness and grace to us in more significant measure than our sin.
That also means that personally, I have done things that I regret. My words have been unkind, and my lips have lied. There have been moments of lust, anger, greed, and idolatry of which I am not proud. I have sinned. And so have you.
With all that said, if I were to ask you about a particular person, what stories come to mind? You have one of two choices: remember the bad or remember the good.
I have found that when I ask about someone, quite often, I am told about one bad story that happened with that person that we cannot forget. “Oh, he is the guy who shouted angrily at the meeting,” we recall. “That is the lady who shared that piece of gossip that hurt my feelings,” we share. “Remember when he was in trouble with the law, and the police came to his house?” The list of possible stories goes on and on.
It does not take much effort to remember that one bad thing someone did because we all do them every single day. The challenging work is to practice forgiveness and grace. It is difficult to choose to forget the ugliness of someone’s life. To say to the world, I will not let that story define their life or my relationship with them. Being a Christian requires us to act like Jesus, especially when we have been wronged in some way.
It is easy to find a group of people who have negative stories about others. It is more challenging to find people who will share positive stories. It is near impossible to find a group that will practice forgiveness of every incident of lousy behavior. But this is what the Church seeks to become, a collection of forgiven people who offer forgiveness to others.
You and I may have done that one bad thing, but that should not define us. I know I don’t want it to define me, and I am pushing myself not to let it define you.