Few things are more frustrating than to have our sincere apology judged as insufficient. “Sorry isn’t good enough,” we’re told. Then we’re told that our apology is but the first step on the long road to redemption–if there even is a road to redemption. Often as not, we find that the road to redemption is permanently closed upon the first, minor transgression.
This exasperating scenario plays out thousands of times each day, even in the Christian world, in spite of the fact that Jesus could not have been clearer when he explained that judging apologies is a no-no: “Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (LK 17:4)
In the Basic Christian world–the genuine Christian world–an apology concludes the matter. It is much more than the “ante” that must be thrown in before starting the punishment phase. In Basic Christianity, forgiveness follows repentance, whereupon victim and offender roll merrily along, hand-in-hand, heart-to-heart, even stronger and more connected than they were before the transgression. Everybody wins, God is glorified and it’s a beautiful thing.
This is not to say that an apology should “fix” major offenses such as violent crime or serious injury or infidelity. But honestly, haven’t we all fallen into the enemy’s trap of holding major grudges over minor offenses? We have, as a society, been sucked into the devil’s trap of “straining out gnats and swallowing camels (Mt. 23:24).” We go bonkers over the slightest personal insults–the gnats–yet we ignore major social “camels” such as racial dissonance.
In the Basic Christian world such majoring in minors cannot be. To withhold mercy and demand punishment is, to paraphrase a military term, “conduct unbecoming a Christian.”
I love the term “conduct unbecoming” because it’s such a gracious way to call attention to a shortcoming. It does not accuse anyone of evil intent, it merely points out that certain conduct falls short of a lofty standard. Continue reading