Beware: spoilers for Kingdom Hearts III below!
Sin is a pervasive disease in humanity. Every human, except for one, has sinned. We are guilty of not only going against the commandments of God but also of frequently hurting our fellow man. We bully, curse, annoy, and even physically injure our peers. The internet offers tempting anonymity that allows people to hurt others. And even if we don’t say the words out loud, our thoughts remain sinful. Matthew 5:28 states, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” God knows the things we think and do in private. We can’t escape our sin. The good news is, forgiveness is the cure to our sin.
The protagonists of the Kingdom Hearts series were consistently getting hurt by both friends and enemies. In Kingdom Hearts, Riku betrayed Sora and joined the powers of darkness. Throughout the second numbered title, Organization XIII, a group of black-cloaked Nobodies antagonized Sora for their purposes. In the Kingdom Hearts series, Nobodies are the sentient, empty husks left behind when a person becomes a Heartless. It is easy to understand if Sora became enraged at those who harmed him. In the same way, it is also easy to understand if God were to become enraged at us because we sinned against Him.
God, a being of complete righteousness, has the right to be angry at humanity for the sins that we have committed against Him. However, God is also a being of absolute love, forgiving those who come to Him in repentance. What is this forgiveness? Merriam-Webster defines forgiveness as giving up the resentment of or claim to requital, or to grant relief from debt payment. When God forgives us, He pardons us from the debts our sin causes. David, in Psalm 103:12, states, “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” God’s forgiveness blots our iniquities away. When we come to Him for repentance, our sins are cast far away from us, and God no longer holds those infractions against us.
The ultimate show of God’s love for us was sending Jesus to die on the cross and resurrect to pay the price for our sins. The entire Bible shows a cycle of forgiveness for the transgressions humans have committed against God. The event of Jesus’s death and resurrection was the climax of these cycles. God opened up His divine forgiveness to everybody without the need for animal sacrifice. How amazing is this? All of our misdeeds are no longer held against us so long as we come to God in repentance. This image embodies what true forgiveness is. This method is also how we are to show forgiveness to our enemies.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Colossians 3:12-13
The Apostle Paul and Timothy are writing to the Church of Colossae in this passage. The Church was young at the time of the letter and was facing false teachings. Paul covered some of the core aspects of Christianity in this epistle to Colossae, including the doctrine of forgiveness. Paul stated that we are to forgive each other as God has forgiven us. This statement means our forgiveness of others must be in the same manner as the forgiveness God gives us. Kingdom Hearts III gives us some examples of this type of forgiveness.
Sora embodies Biblical forgiveness particularly well in the climax scenes of Kingdom Hearts III. These scenes detail a string of fights against the New Organization XIII and are some of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the entire franchise. This New Organization XIII comprises some old members of the first Organization and others that Xehanort controlled over time. One by one, Sora defeats the members of the New Organization. After each one is defeated, cutscenes play. These cutscenes show dialogue where one of the protagonists talks to the defeated member and exemplify the biblical principle of how we are to forgive.
As each member of the New Organization is defeated, we see that Sora does not exhibit malice towards them. For the Nobodies in the Organization, Sora is happy that they can become human once more. He doesn’t explicitly show hatred towards them. In this clip, we see Sora’s interaction with Luxord, Marluxia, and Larxene. All three of these Nobodies have significantly hurt Sora. Marluxia and Larxene were instrumental in stealing Sora’s memories in Chain of Memories. Luxord was an antagonist during Kingdom Hearts II. Sora isn’t holding the wrongs they committed against them. We should react similarly.
How many times have we harbored unforgiveness against our friends for wronging us? Maybe our friend lied to us or called us mean names. Maybe the transgression feels worse, like when our friend stole from us or physically injured us. It feels temporarily good to hold that against them. Why should we forgive them when they acted wrongly against us? After all, we are just protecting ourselves when we refuse to pardon these infractions, or so we think. Usually, we perpetuate harm to both ourselves and our friends when we refuse forgiveness. Dwelling on things that hurt us negatively impacts our mindsets and refusing to forgive our friends can inhibit us from having friendships with anyone. As Marcus from The Benchwarmers movie says, “… life is too short to harbor hatred.”
Life is too short to harbor hatred against anyone. Just as we are to forgive our friends, we are to forgive our enemies. Sora’s forgiveness of Luxard, Larxene, and Marluxia is critical because those three were Sora’s enemies. We can understand Sora forgiving Riku; after all, Sora and Riku have been friends since early childhood. However, it is much harder for people to understand the concept of forgiving our enemies. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus commanded us to “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Part of loving our enemies is forgiving them. The Lord’s Prayer also helps show us this.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.Matthew 6:9-13 ESV
The Lord’s prayer doesn’t command us only to forgive our friends. The prayer begs God to forgive us all our sins as we also forgive those who sin against us. We must forgive everybody, much the same as God has forgiven us. What happens when we deny forgiveness?
In Matthew 18:21-35, the Apostle Peter and Jesus have a conversation about how we are to forgive. This passage is where Jesus tells us we are to forgive “seventy-seven times” (in the ESV). Jesus is telling us that we should never cease forgiving. Jesus follows this statement up with the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in which a servant, owing his king a debt so great he could never repay it, fell to the ground and begged the king for mercy and more time to pay the debt. The king forgave the debt of this servant and sent him on his way. The forgiven servant then went to another fellow servant and demanded that this servant pay a comparatively miniscule debt. The indebted servant pleaded with the forgiven servant for more time to pay off the debt, but the forgiven servant refused and jailed the indebted servant. Word got back to the king, who told the forgiven servant, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” The king jailed the wicked servant until he repaid his massive debt.
The Sin of Unforgiveness
This parable tells us that we are sinning if we don’t forgive others the way God forgave us. God forgave us a massive debt that we cannot possibly pay off on our own: the debt of all of our sins against him. How silly is it then when we are not able to forgive a few sins committed against us? These sins against us do hurt and can hurt deeply. If we continue to deny forgiveness, however, that hurt will grow. We are liable to be consumed by our unforgiveness, and that unforgiveness will turn to hatred. This degradation is not what God wants for us. Instead of holding our grudges against those who hurt us, we should be more like Sora and extend forgiveness to them, much like God extended forgiveness to us.
My brothers and sisters, forgiveness is a foundational trait of Christianity. Jesus’s mission to die for our sins and subsequently resurrect was to fulfill the law and forgive our sins. Forgiveness is a natural extension of true love, and we must exercise a forgiving attitude with everyone in our lives. This action will help us retain good friendships and is an excellent exhibition of loving our enemies. I continue to pray for you, that the peace of God stays with you in every season you face.