Archbishop Job’s letter to Mark Stokoe on OCANews.org and admission is a good reminder that forgiveness is not granted because it is deserved. Forgiveness and reconciliation are grace, freely given.
St. Paul reminds us of this truth in Romans 5:6-10 – “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. … For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”
We by our lives and deeds are/were weak, ungodly, sinners, and enemies of God. Christ died for us anyway. He didn’t wait for our metanoia, change of heart, repentance. We are not forgiven by God because we deserve it. God’s love toward us is His action toward us not His reaction to us.
Knowing we are forgiven, makes it possible and inviting for us to repent. The failure to repent, to confess one’s sin and fault, to ask forgiveness, stems from a lack of faith in God’s forgiveness and mercy, as well as from an unwillingness to humble one’s self and be a disciple of the Savior. A failure to repent stems from a failure to accept God’s forgiveness and a refusal to believe in efficacy of the Savior’s crucifixion.
Archbishop Job’s humbling repentance and seeking forgiveness shows him to be a disciple of the Crucified Lord, and worthy of the office of bishop, a rule of faith as we sing in the tropar for a holy bishop – a model for us to emulate.
Our forgiveness is offered to the repentant Archbishop, not because he deserves to receive it, but because He admits to being weak, a sinner, ungodly and an enemy of God, and seeks our forgiveness. He repents not to manipulate us into doing something, but only to humble himself and set the record straight. And we who have experienced the free gift of salvation through Christ’s death on the cross, know we are to love a repentant father and brother, because we were loved while we were yet sinners, and as our Lord has loved us (John 13:34, 15:12).