Today I continue my blog review and analysis of Francis Schaeffer’s book, The Mark of the Christian. We are beyond the halfway point of this short text, and into the sections where Schaeffer carefully shows the applications of his thesis: that the final apologetic for the Christian is their love for other Christians.
In the last section, Schaeffer introduced us to the first step of observable love within the Christian community, learning how to say “I’m sorry.” The next step is receiving that act of humility: exercising forgiveness.
If saying “I’m sorry is hard” (which it certainly is), then granting forgiveness is even harder. Schaeffer reminds us, however, that the Bible makes it very clear “the world must observe a forgiving spirit in the midst of God's people” (p. 24). And Jesus makes this very clear in His model prayer – the Lord’s Prayer. Moreover, the degree of our forgiveness towards other people directly affects our relationship with God our Father in heaven. The entire point is, of course, that an attitude of forgiveness is an act/”mark” of love towards each other.
Key statements from this section (p. 23-25):
[The Lord’s Prayer] … has nothing to do with being born again . . . But it does have to do with a Christian's existential, moment-by-moment experiential relationship to God. We need a once-for-all forgiveness at justification, and we need a moment-by-moment forgiveness for our sins on the basis of Christ's work in order to be in open fellowship with God.
The Lord's Prayer does not suggest that when the other man is sorry, then we are to show a oneness by having a forgiving spirit. Rather, we are called upon to have a forgiving spirit without the other man having made the first step.
We are to have this forgiving spirit not only toward Christians but toward all men. But surely if it is toward all men, it is important toward Christians.
Such a forgiving spirit registers an attitude of love toward others. But, even though one can call this an attitude, true forgiveness is observable.
You can read the online edition of the entire book here >>
3 John 8