Is there a second chance with God?

It's the typical action movie: 10 seconds before the bomb blows and kills thousands of people, not to mention the honorable hero trying to defuse the bomb. Sweat drips from the hero's face and the strained policemen and other actors hold their breath. Which wire has to be cut? The Red? The yellow one? Four seconds left. The Red! Two seconds left. No, the yellow one! Snip! There is only one chance to do it right. For some reason, the hero always cuts the wire in the movie, but life is not a movie. Have you ever had the feeling that you cut the wrong wire and suddenly everything seemed lost? I believe that we find out if God gives second chances when we look at the life of Jesus. 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, Lord, how often do I have to forgive my brother, who sins against me? Is it enough seven times? Jesus said to him, I say to you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times (Mt 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've met people who really believe that they've sinned too often and that God can not forgive them for that anymore. They feel that they have lost their chances with God and can not be saved. Again, the life and deeds of Jesus speak volumes: Peter, the most intimate friend of Jesus, publicly denies it three times (Mt 26,34, 56, 69-75) and yet Jesus reaches out to him and forgives and loves him. I believe that this experience has been 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 even though Jesus died on unbearable pain, Jesus forgave all those who were responsible for his death, even as they made fun of him. Think about it for a moment. It is an incredible, truly divine love and forgiveness that only God can bestow. Contrary to the general understanding of believers and non-believers, God is not after you. He is not the big unattainable something sitting in the sky and just waiting to catch you if you make a mistake. That's not God, that's how we are human beings. That's part of our character and not his. It is we who keep a tally on the injustices that have befallen us, not God. It is we who stop forgiving and ending relationships, not God.

We can find many examples in the Bible in which God expresses his love for us and his yearning for us. How many times does he promise us: I do not want to leave you and leave you (Heb 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 did not just utter these nice words, but that they lived through what they said through the life of Jesus. Is God giving 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

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