Second Chances Come in Bundles
Life is all about second chances, especially when it comes to our faith. Last year at this time, we were boldly planning for a year of transformation at Oak Chapel.
Then the pandemic hit, and all “you-know-what” broke loose. On the surface, the first half of 2020 looks like a washout with little hope for the final four months.
But wait a second. Haven’t we launched new initiatives in several areas with plans for several more? And haven’t we done it in the face of a world health crisis?
That says at least one thing to me — we are a resilient group, and we will not be vanquished. Our faith lifts us up, sustains us, and gives us hope. We know how to capitalize on second chances. Little Oak Chapel is mightier than many might think!
Of course, Scripture is filled with passages about second chances. Many are familiar, like the ninth verse of the first chapter of 1st John, which states that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The operative word is the very first one, “If.” In order to be forgiven, in order to get a second chance, we must confess our sins, and sometimes that’s not easy. Pride on one end and embarrassment on the other often get in the way.
Another familiar passage about second chances reminds us that we get far more than two. In the 18th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew when Peter, in his inimitable way, tries to figure out exactly how many times he should forgive a brother who sins against him, Jesus responds, “Seventy times seven” (which totals 490, if your counting at home), but in reality, it is His way of saying that we are to forgive an infinite number of times, especially if we expect to be forgiven every time we sin.
One of the more powerful, but less familiar, passages about second chances comes from the Old Testament Book of Lamentations, which states in Chapter 3, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
Christ’s love and his willingness to forgive is, indeed, infinite, and we can take solace in that. However, let us never forget that the expectation is the same for us when it comes to forgiving others. Hard as it might be, frustrating and maddening as it often is, we are to forgive our neighbor and even our enemy over and over again, even when it is unpleasant, or even unpalatable, to do so.
We forgive others, not necessarily because we want to, but because in our efforts to be Christlike, we know that we must follow his lead.
Surely you know of someone who could use a second (or third, fourth, or fifth) chance. Maybe today is the day. Open your heart and spread God’s grace and mercy so that we may reconcile with each other as God has reconciled with each of us.
Until we meet again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John