It's the typical action film: there are 10 seconds before the bomb goes off and thousands of people are killed, not to mention the honorable hero who tries to defuse the bomb. Sweat drips from the hero's face and the tense police officers and other actors hold their breath. Which wire needs to be cut? The Red? The yellow one? Four more seconds. The Red! Two more seconds. No, the yellow one! Snap! There's only one chance to get it right. For some reason, the hero always cuts the right wire in the film, but life is not a film. Have you ever felt like you cut the wrong wire and suddenly everything seemed lost? I believe that if we look at the life of Jesus, we will find out if God gives second chances. Jesus was (and is) God and his life and character very clearly reflect the character of God the Father. When the disciple Peter came to Jesus and asked him, how often do I have to forgive my brother who sinned on me? Is it enough seven times? Jesus said to him, I tell you: not seven times, but seventy times seven times (Matthew 18, 21-22).
In order to understand the meaning of this conversation, one must understand the culture of this time a little. At that time, religious teachers said that one should forgive a person who has done evil three times. After that you do not have to anymore. Peter thought that he was a very just person and that Jesus would be impressed by his answer to forgiving a person seven times. But Jesus was not impressed by it, but made it clear to Peter that he had not understood the concept of forgiveness. When forgiving, it's not about counting, because then you do not forgive someone with all your heart. When Jesus said that one should forgive seventy times seven times, he did not mean 490 times, but that one should forgive infinitely. This is the true character and the true heart of Jesus and also of God because Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit are one. Not only in being, but also in character - that is part of the Trinity of God.
The opportunities missed?
I have met people who really believe that they have sinned too often and that God can therefore no longer forgive them. They feel that they have missed their chances with God and can no longer be saved. Again, the life and deeds of Jesus speak volumes: Peter, Jesus' most trusted friend, publicly denies him three times (Matthew 26,34:56, 69, 75) and yet Jesus reaches out to him and forgives him and loves him. I believe that this experience was a key experience in many areas of Peter's life. He became one of the most faithful and influential followers of Jesus and the leader of his church. Another impressive example of God's true forgiveness is that, although he died on the cross in excruciating pain, Jesus wholeheartedly forgave those responsible for his death, even when they were still making fun of him. Think about it for a moment. It is an incredible, truly divine love and forgiveness that only God can give, contrary to the general understanding of believers and non-believers, God is not after you. It is not the big unattainable something that sits in heaven and is just waiting to snap you up if you make a mistake. This is not God, but we are human beings. That is part of our character and not his. It is we who keep a tally of the injustices that have happened to us and not God. It is we who stop forgiving and ending relationships, and not God.
We can find numerous examples in the Bible in which God expresses his love for us and his longing for us. How often does he promise us: I don't want to leave you and I don't want to leave you (Hebrews 13, 5). God's longing for us is that we are not lost, but that all people are saved. The really wonderful thing about it is that God and Jesus not only uttered these nice words, but that they also lived out everything they said through the life of Jesus. Does God now give a second chance?
The answer is No - God not only gives us a second chance, but is forgiven over and over again. Talk to God regularly about your sins, missteps, and injuries. Keep your eyes on him and not on where you think you are missing out on. God does not count their missteps. He will continue to love us, forgive us, be with us and hold on to us, no matter what. Finding someone who gives us a second chance - even daily - is not easy, but Jesus offers us both.
by Johannes Maree