The "Unforgivable Sin"

A reading for Tuesday, March 18, 2014: Mark 3:19b-35.

I have a friend who often talks of the "unforgivable sin."

It's a little strange. He is a man who defines the words forgiveness and grace. In his work with at-risk teenagers, who are often living as gang members, he almost always has to offer them forgiveness from something in order to encourage the life of faith. His power is in loving these teenagers out of a life of desperation and violence and into a life of hope and faithfulness through forgiveness. Jesus loves you no matter what you have done is his clear and unfailing message.

Yet, he teaches of the "unforgivable sin." For a long time I didn't understand how such a man of forgiveness could teach of the "unforgivable sin?"

Then I came across our scripture lesson from today. I read the verses that lead up to that teaching of Jesus about the "unforgivable sin." The scribes came down from Jerusalem and were teaching the people who gathered that the power of Jesus was from Beelzebul. They misunderstood what Jesus was doing, and because they would not recognize the Holy Spirit as the power in Jesus, they had already condemned themselves. They thought Jesus was of satan, and not filled with the Holy Spirit.

The scribes were not condemned by God (or Jesus) for their blaspheming against the Holy Spirit in what they said, but had cut themselves off from salvation by not recognizing the power of God to heal. The Holy Spirit is the power of God to heal, to transform, and to make new. Jesus power through the Holy Spirit was in loving all out of desperation and violence into a life of hope and faithfulness through forgiveness. God loves you no matter what you have done was Jesus' clear and unfailing message.

The "unforgivable sin" is not just a warning to be careful about what we say. Instead it is the imperative to know from where our healing truly comes. Healing and forgiveness comes from Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. To miss that is to risk everything.

"Blessed are you Lord God... You have come to your people and set them free!"  


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