The Vertical Nature of Christ’s Forgiveness
The eyes of faith looks at the cross far differently than the eyes of unbelief. To the world, the cross is a symbol of sacrifice and suffering. Christ is looked upon as a model who taught a standard of values and morals that the world ought to follow to make it a better place. To the transformed few, the cross provides a far different meaning. It is a symbol of forgetfulness.
To illustrate what I mean, place a blank piece of paper directly in front of you. Draw a vertical line from the top of the paper to the bottom. Then, draw a horizontal line from one side to the other. Notice how both lines intersect at the middle.
In this simple diagram we receive a perspective of the vertical nature of Christ’s forgiveness and the horizontal nature of a believer’s response to the world and to themselves. Christ’s forgiveness is made complete in forgetfulness. Our response is made complete in self-forgetfulness.
The vertical nature is a top-down effect — Christ forgives and a believer receives. A believer receives the status of redeemed, justified, and saved from the consequences of sin. It is a legal status declared and notarized by a Heavenly judge. A believer’s status is secure because of what Christ has already accomplished on the cross.
Transformations comes with the knowledge and the assurance that Jesus Christ has not only forgiven every one of our sins, but he has completely forgotten them.
Look at the vertical line on your paper. As far as the heavens are from the earth (top to bottom) our sins have been covered. They have been erased. Look at the horizontal line on your paper. As far as the east is from the west, all of our sins have been blotted out from the records. Our name is recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life. You have been stamped with the words “Redeemed!” Our sins are legally forgotten and lovingly reconciled in Christ.
The vertical nature of Christ’s forgiveness prescribes self-forgetfulness.
We love because Christ first loved us. We forgive ourselves because Christ has forgiven us. And we are told to forget. With knowledge and assurance that sins are forgiven, we let go of guilt and self-condemnation. The consequences of sins may still remain. In a fallen world where sins seem impossible to forget, a life in Christ sees ourselves through the lens of how God sees us – His redeemed children. In Christ’s embrace, we find assurance, security, and the removal of guilt. We forgive because Christ has forgiven us. We forget because Christ has forgotten.
The vertical nature of Christ’s forgiveness causes a horizontal response to others.
Our minds will never forget the transgressions of others. We can’t peel away their harmful words and actions. The hurt, pain, and disappointment are portraits that hang in the gallery of our minds. The vertical nature of Christ replaces anger, retribution, and bitterness with the horizontal response of peace and love. In Christ’s forgetfulness, we extend forgiveness and forgetfulness to others. Instead of sentencing ourselves in the prison un-forgiveness, Christ sets us free. In self-forgetfulness, we are set free from the tangled cords of guilt and condemnation.
The vertical nature of Christ’s forgiveness has a ripple effect. A believer receives this promise and creates a horizontal effect of sharing this transforming message with others.