Tonight we continue our exploration of The Lords Prayer with the 5th petition, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We’ll be answering a very tough question when people begin to discus the idea of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.
Can I do something bad enough to make God stop loving me?
Sin can have various consequences. It can, for instance, hurt other people (murder, gossip, etc.). And even “victim-less crimes” hurt us psychologically and emotionally (lying to ourselves, viewing pornography, etc.). Those are the real-world (or earthly) consequences of sin. When people turn away from God, God is truly hurt. The ultimate example of this was when Jesus bore nails in his hands and feet to free us from sin…and that definitely hurt God quite literally.
The point is that sin is a rebellion. It’s a turning away from our dependence on God as the source of life. God’s desire for us to turn toward God is what baptism is all about. We are claimed as Children of God. We belong to one whose mark on us is forever. God’s grace overflows from life to death, and nothing can separate us from that love.
Though we continue to sin against God and others, the good news is that God will continue to reach out to us in an embrace, even when we do things that damage those relationships. Tonight we’ll explore God’s unconditional love by reimagining what the parable of The Prodigal Son would look like if it were told today. Then in small group we’ll explore some characters from the Bible who did some pretty bad things and write them some citations.
This week’s Take Home Activity will ask students to rate some sins from “ain’t bad at all” to “totally evil” and then share their ratings with their parents. Then using those ratings as a launching point they’ll be asked to explore why there are earthly consequences of varying degrees for different sins if God thinks of all sins as equal.