“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
-Acts 2:36-38a, NIV
Christianity was founded on an uncomfortable truth.
The Gospel is about sharing this truth:
God sent His Son to earth. We killed Him. Not only did we kill Jesus, but we did so in the most excruciating way–literally–known to humanity at the time.
And Jesus rose from the grave proving that His sacrifice of Himself on the Cross was effective to all who will receive Him.
My point in this is how Christianity is focused upon speaking uncomfortable things. God does not shy away from speaking hard truths when the eternal well-being of those He loves is on the line.
We can see this willingness to speak hard truth in Peter’s Pentecost sermon quoted above.
Notice that Peter does not shy away from naming what the people in his audience did:
“‘God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.'”
If we followed the “wise” teaching of some Christians regarding “forgiveness,” they might call Peter unforgiving. Perhaps, they might even had stood up and called him bitter. I don’t know.
What I do know is that Peter is making this statement after Jesus forgave those who were killing Him on the cross (see Luke 23:34). Apparently, Jesus extending forgiveness was not enough for them.
I see a lot of parallels here when it comes to dealing with infidelity.
- It is not unforgiving to recount history. That is called being truthful and historically accurate. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the matter of telling accurate history, and yes, that includes personal history as well. My ex-wife committed adultery. That is a fact just as it was a historical fact that Peter was speaking to an audience of people who participated directly in killing Jesus.
- Even an offer of forgiveness from Jesus will do you no good unless you repent. If it was true that all is needed for forgiveness is Jesus saying He forgives you, then I do not see the point of Peter insisting on these folks repenting to make things right. The reality is that godly forgiveness requires a response from the perpetrator for it to do any good for him or her spiritually. That is what I see from this passage. A cheater is not right before God–like these Jews–until a cheater repents.
- An unwillingness to talk about uncomfortable truths makes one less–not more–aligned with historical Christianity. Comfort and politeness have become more important than speaking truth in Christian circles. The ugly nature of adultery and infidelity make them “taboo” subjects for victims–especially–to talk about with others in the church. And how many sermons have you heard from the pulpit tackling this evil directly? Not many, if any, I bet.
Christianity starts from the place of recognizing we are in a battle with evil. This evil needs to be named, or it will not be addressed. Furthermore, sometimes when naming the evil, we will have to share very uncomfortable truths like sharing the fact that a spouse was unfaithful. This is part of grasping the problem and reality.
It is uncomfortable to say that my sin put Jesus on that Cross.
But it did.
I do not expect a preacher–or anyone else–to not breath word of this fact to me ever again in my life just because I am now forgiven. This is truth. Forgiveness does not make it less so.
Similarly, we need to stop the madness of suggesting an adultery victim must cease sharing the historical truth of their victimization.
It happened. Forgiveness does not change history.