A while back an artist named Allan Bridge died. He was what they called a "concept artist." People whose art is not necessarily paintings or sculpture. They refer to their work as "living art." Live people used in a store window as mannequins is an example of concept or living art.
Mr. Bridge's contribution to concept art was that he invented a thing called the "Apology Line." The Apology Line was a telephone line available to anyone who wanted to call in and record an apology for something they had done.
I heard some of the tapes recorded over the years that the apology line was used:
- A man who sold his wedding ring to buy sex while overseas in the military.
- A bus driver who took drugs during his shift.
- A woman who cheated in a business transaction.
The article described the hundreds of people who called in to apologize, confess, acknowledge wrong or error.
The artist said he created the line because he felt that people needed to get things off their chest and in doing so they felt better. Mr. Bridge was insightful in his understanding of the human heart but because he did not know or believe the gospel there was one important thing that he did not understand.
"Feeling better" about what you did is not the same thing as "being forgiven."
What these people were really looking for in confessing and apologizing was the feeling of relief that comes with forgiveness. When someone is forgiven, several things happen that cause that feeling of relief and happiness:
- The acknowledgement of wrong lifts the burden of guilt from the soul, like a weight.
- The penalty for that wrong is paid, restitution is made (You pay it or someone pays it for you).
- The victim and offender are reconciled. (The wall between you is removed.)
The apology line only provided temporary and partial relief. The person got the momentary lift from unburdening their hearts of their wrongs.
However, forgiveness which brings lasting peace, did not occur because no restitution, no penalty was paid, no justice satisfied, still separated from others. The man who committed adultery still had this sin between himself and his wife. The persons who cheated and risked the lives of others by their behavior were still liable before God for their actions.
Mr. Bridge has died and the future of his Apology Line is uncertain. He had a good idea, he was not far from the kingdom of heaven. It is a sad thing that he did not know that there is a line open to all where anyone can truly receive the relief and joy that comes from forgiveness. That line is Jesus Christ.
There is a difference between the two lines, however, the Apology Line required you to call and confess your sins to a machine. Jesus, on the other hand, is the one who calls on you with the offer of forgiveness and the joy that comes with it. With Jesus:
- You not only acknowledge your sins, you burry them forever in the watery grave of baptism, never to see them again.
- With Jesus the penalty or restitution for those sins is made entirely by Him on the cross. No sin, no debt is too great for Him to make the payback for you.
- Once your sins are eliminated you are reconciled to all those you sinned against (God, yourself, others).
The feeling that you get from this forgiveness is real and lasting because something has actually happened to your sins: they are not just recorded on a tape, they are erased from the face of the earth forever.
If Jesus is calling you to receive forgiveness and peace, do not give Him a busy signal by putting off dealing with your sins. Repent and be baptized or call on Him and be restored.
- What is the most difficult thing about saying, "I'm Sorry?" Why?
- When it comes to sin why is saying, "sorry," not good enough for God?
- How do you handle a person who has truly offended you but rejects your offer of forgiveness?
- In your opinion, what is the best way to get some closure concerning asking for or offering forgiveness to those who have died?
- Even though we know that God forgives even our worst sins, why is it so difficult to forgive ourselves of these sins?