A few years ago an interesting phrase began popping into my head, and it began to have a big impact on me and my thinking. That phrase is Enjoy Your Forgiveness. I want to share a few thoughts about that phrase, along with its origin in my thought process.

It was during an Easter season that I began thinking about how and why I should enjoy the forgiveness that Christ had given me as a free gift. The idea was quite radical to me, as I had never before heard it, and I immediately began sharing my new revelation with a few others. Some didn’t like it and thought the idea shouldn’t be encouraged, and others, like myself, found great relief in it. The phrase has since been adopted by others and I hope the concept continues to spread because it was something missing in my own life and my Christian experience as a whole. It should be the norm.

The concept for me was born out of decades of terrorist preachers, religious instruction, and attempting to give God my all. I’ll save most of that for later writing, but needless to say, I burned out on most of the religious aspects of Christianity some time ago, and I’m still burned out! However, I remain convinced that if the Gospel is true, it is the most amazing news I’ve ever heard, and it is something to be enjoyed. Gifts are for enjoyment, aren’t they?

Enjoying my forgiveness has become even more important to me during this pandemic because I see forms of religion cropping up in new ways, and I hate it with all of my being. It was through noticing this that inspired me to share some of these thoughts with you today. COVID-19 has brought upon us new fears and new anxieties, and it has created a perfect opportunity for snake oil salesmen to come and give us a false remedy: Religion has lost some of its control because of this pandemic, and in order for it to survive, it requires creativity and participation instead of trusting in the finished work of Christ.

However, the truth is, Christianity as a religion really has only one participant and that is Jesus. We are not participants, but recipients. We receive and we receive the most amazing gift we could ever receive, which is forgiveness. This is why I believe it is important for us right now to understand our justification and to take our forgiveness very seriously so we are not tossed around by a new false doctrine.

The real danger to your Christian life is not sin but religion, which insists on muddling the message of the free gift of forgiveness. Religion seeks to put salvation in your hands and give you the false impression that works-righteousness can save you. Anything that draws you to works-righteousness and away from justification by grace alone through faith is big trouble. Remember what the Apostle Paul said: If anyone comes preaching another gospel to you then let them be accursed. Said another way, if anyone comes to you with anything other than the finished work of Christ, well, they can just go the hell on. Our message should be Christ and him crucified.

Gerhard Forde writes in Justification By Faith: A Matter of Death and Life:

We have to do something, don’t we? NO! In fact that is no longer the question. Now the question becomes, “What are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything?”

Religion wants to put something on your spiritual to-do list that Christ has already accomplished for you. Religion demands your participation for survival, but there are no more requirements. Jesus has wiped out the requirements that were against us (Col. 2:14)! We have permission to stop doing! Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling! Jesus paid it all! You are now free to roam about the cabin.

So then, what do you want to do now that you don’t have to do anything? To me, that is exactly what enjoying your forgiveness means. The freedom to do anything. When you don’t have to do anything, then you can enjoy the freeing gift of forgiveness, and the world opens up around you.

There is so little we can do right now. We cannot dot our spiritual I’s nor cross our spiritual T’s, but we never had to. This illusion of control and the lack of control we currently have creates all sorts of anxieties. But, as you sit in your home with that lack of ability, maybe the most spiritual thing you can do is absolutely nothing. Kick back, put your feet up, and ride the storm out as best as possible.

Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

His yoke is easy, friends, and I hope you can begin feeling the easy freedom of enjoying your forgiveness. I leave you with the comforting words of Robert Farrar Capon:

And the unjust? Well, the unjust are all the forgiven sinners of the world who, stupidly, live by unfaith — who are going to insist on showing up at the resurrection with all their record books, as if it were an IRS audit. The unjust are the idiots who are going to try to talk Jesus into checking his bookkeeping against theirs. And do you know what Jesus is going to say to them — what, for example, he will say to his host if he comes to the resurrection with such a request? I think he will say, “Just forget it, Arthur. I suppose we have those books around here somewhere, and if you’re really determined to stand in front of my great white throne and make an ass of yourself, I guess they can be opened (Rev. 20:12). Frankly, though, nobody up here pays any attention to them. What will happen will be that while you’re busy reading and weeping over everything in those books, I will go and open my other book (Rev. 20:12, again), the book of life — the book that has in it the names of everybody I ever drew to myself by dying and rising. And when I open that book, I’m going to read out to the whole universe every last word that’s written there. And you know what that’s going to be? It’s going to be just Arthur. Nothing else. None of your bad deeds, because I erased them all. And none of your good deeds, because I didn’t count them, I just enjoyed them. So what I’ll read out, Arthur, will be just Arthur! real loud. And my Father will smile and say, ‘Hey, Arthur! You’re just the way I pictured you!’ And the universe will giggle and say, ‘That’s some Arthur you’ve got there!’ But me, I’ll just wink at you and say, ‘Arthur, c’mon up here and plunk yourself down by my great white throne and let’s you and me have a good long practice laugh before this party gets so loud we can’t even hear how much fun we’re having.