Forgiveness is a deep concept. There are a lot of implications when we consider forgiving someone who hurt us.
- Does forgiving someone mean that what they did was “ok”?
- Does forgiving someone mean that I must forget what happened?
- Does forgiving someone mean that they should not be punished?
- Does forgiving someone mean that they might hurt me or another again!?
- Does forgiving someone mean that need to become friends with the person?
The Shack does a good job of walking Mack back from the edge of anger and despair. Just when he has come so far, the book pushes Mack even beyond where we want to go. Mack would have been perfectly happy knowing that God was in control of his life, and that he can work out good even in the horror of abuse and murder. Why does Mack need to take the time and forgive the person who did unspeakable acts to his daughter?
There are psychological reasons, but the most important reason is that God has forgiven us. He doesn’t give us an option in the matter. God wants us to forgive others as we have been forgiven. We pray this in the Fifth Petition of the Lord’s prayer. When we forgive, there is no trying. We don’t need to work up the nerve. When God forgave us, he chose to do so in Jesus. God’s love is a gracious selfless choice by the creator to love his creatures who hated him and rebelled against him. Paul writes in the fifth chapter of his letter to the Romans. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” When we choose to forgive someone who has hurt us, we are not affirming any of the above questions. All we are doing is releasing our claim of punishment. That is too great of a responsibility for us. In Romans 12 our God tells us, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
In forgiveness we are free to love, free to live. In The Shack this concept is deeply explored and illustrated with beauty and power. “Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another person’s throat.” – The Shack p.246
Want to hear more? Watch the final lesson on chapters 14-18 of our Bible study, The Shack.
Please click HERE for the Bible class slides.