In the second chapter of the Gospel of Mark the writer records the story of men who, out of compassion for a suffering friend, tore through the roof of the house where Jesus was teaching and lowered him down before the Master. The first thing Jesus said to the man was to forgive his sins. The Pharisees took umbrage at what seemed to them blatant blasphemy—how could a mere mortal forgive sins? Jesus’ response is telling. “Which is easier to do, to forgive sins, or to tell the man, get up and walk? But to show that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins….” And he heals the man.
Which is easier? As a clergy person I get to tell people they are forgiven all the time. It is a great honor, but in one sense it’s easy. Forgiveness before God is not a quantifiable thing. Unless it precipitates a change in the person who is forgiven it gets lost in the ether, and becomes an easy stroking of another’s ego. To tell the man, “get up and walk,” and to have him do it requires a commitment to quantifiable and evident involvement.
We’re off to Honduras for a week to get people up and walking. Hopefully they will also know that they are forgiven, loved and included in the Kingdom of God.