"Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God's own rules do not matter as much as the relationship God wants to create with us." (Richard Rohr)
In my sermon prep for this week, I have read - reread actually - some words from Richard Rohr, an American Franciscan priest. We, as a society, couldn't exist without rules. We have laws we live by, but there are also the unwritten rules that generally, although not always, keep us at least minimally civil to one another (such as, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all). Family households have rules as well - for bedtime, taking out the garbage, doing homework, housecleaning, etc. Rules are important, but....
God has established rules for us as well. There are the big ones, such as don't commit murder, don't steal, don't worship other gods, honor your parents. There are the really big ones, like love God will all your being and love others as yourself. Then there are other ones like be kind, be patient, be generous, be faithful, live in peace with others, and so on (see Galatians 5).
But the wonderful thing about God is that God's love for us is more important than any of the rules. I'm too often more impatient than patient. I'm prone to be selfish instead of generous. I have a difficult time loving some of the "others." And despite all of that, God doesn't have a limit on forgiveness. God forgives me over and over and over again because, as Rohr says, the relationship is more important than the rules.
Can you imagine? What would the church be like if we became known for a love and forgiveness focused on the relationship rather than on rules?