Chuck Colson is a man known with many monikers. He wore the title of “Special Counsel for to the President” from 1969 to 1973. He wore the title of “defendant” as he faced charges related to the Watergate Scandal. He shared the title of “The Watergate Seven” with six other advisors and aides to President Nixon. He was called “inmate” as he served his prison sentence for obstruction of justice. He is known as husband, father, doctor, author, lawyer, Marine, and Baptist. His most important title is “child” which is how he is now known by God.
Chuck Colson, though caught up in one of the nastiest political scandals of our nation, became a Christian in the middle of the Watergate Scandal after reading a copy of C.S. Lewis’ classic, Mere Christianity. What I find most interesting about Colson is that his conversion took place before stepping foot inside the Maxwell Correctional Facility. Many people speak of “jailhouse religion” – this idea that inmates develop faith in the prison and leave it there once they are released. Colson became a Christian nearly a year before ever darkening the doors of the prison.
Colson is an interesting story on the nature of forgiveness. He was forgiven by the government upon the completion of his prison sentence. He was released on January 31, 1975, nearly two and a half years after the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters that sparked the Watergate Scandal. Colson had to wait for that forgiveness, just like any other criminal. But while he had to wait on the government’s forgiveness, Colson didn’t have to wait a second for forgiveness from God when he gave his life to Jesus Christ on that day back in 1973.
That is true for all of us. Though we may have to wait for forgiveness from friends or loved ones (or even from the government) we never have to wait for forgiveness from our Lord Jesus Christ. When we turn from our sins and give our lives to the Lord, our forgiveness is complete, instantaneous, and unconditional. Aren’t you glad that there are no waiting periods on the forgiveness that comes from God.
In Jeremiah 31:31-34, God promised that things will one day be different for the people of Israel. Up until that day, forgiveness was granted to God’s people through the sacrifice of animals on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. In a very real sense, people had to wait for their forgiveness. But God said that there was coming a day that a new covenant would rule the day. Jesus told us at the Lord’s Supper that this new covenant would be ushered in by His blood.
In this new plan of God, he promises to forgive wrongdoing and remember it no more. As fallen humans, we tend to have the ability to forgive, but forgetting is another story. This is why we struggle so often with forgiveness. Yet somehow, in God’s might, he has the ability to forget forgiven sins. We no longer have to wait for forgiveness because Jesus Christ, the perfect, spotless, lamb of God has died to take away the sins of the world – past, present, and future. The forgiveness that Jesus provides has already been guaranteed at the cross and you and I have immediate access to it.
We may have to await the consequences of our sins in this life, but thanks be to God that we do not have to wait for the offer of forgiveness from our Lord. It has already been provided for those who believe. Chuck Colson entered prison as a forgiven man with a prison sentence. Can you walk through your life with the guarantee of forgiveness?