In the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a modern rendition of Homer’s Odyssey set in the deep South during the Great Depression, the protagonists are hiding out in the woods when a congregation of people walks past them towards the nearby river to be baptized. One of the protagonists, Delmar, is caught up in the moment, runs headlong into the river to the preacher, and is baptized. As he comes out of the water, he proclaims:
“Well that's it, boys. I've been redeemed! The preacher done washed away all my sins and transgressions. It's the straight and narrow from here on out. And heaven everlasting's my reward!”
As Christians, we speak much about forgiveness. We say we have been forgiven, that our sins have been washed away. For many of us, it is the centerpoint of the Gospel itself. In fact, it’s so much of a given, you might even ask yourself it is even necessary that we spend a sermon discussing what we mean by “I believe in the Forgiveness of Sins.” Yet, if we really stop to ponder, we might wonder if our grasp of forgiveness isn’t much more than Delmar’s caricature.
As you prepare for Sunday Gathered, please read 1 John 1:1-2:6, and then repeat your reading of 1 John 1:5-10 several times. As you do, consider these questions:
- Why do we need forgiveness? (1 Jn 1:5)
- How is forgiveness provided? (1 Jn 1:7)
- How do we receive forgiveness? (1 Jn 1:9)
- What is the purpose behind forgiveness? (1 Jn 1:3)