Philippians 3:17 - 4:1
Once again, today I was moved by the StillSpeaking Daily Devotional from the United Church of Christ’s Writers Group, and I want to share it with you all. It is written by Quinn Caldwell, pastor of Plymouth Congregational UCC in Syracuse, NY. Rev. Caldwell led workshops on vital worship practices at our Central Atlantic Conference Annual Meeting two years ago.
“In Christ God was reconciling the world to Godself,
not counting their trespasses against them,
and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” - 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
You know what would make Christianity a lot easier ? If we could just do away with this whole "forgiveness" thing.
I mean, none of the other religions requires it. Also, it's inefficient. Achieving it can take a lifetime. Also, it's not as fun as holding a grudge, or as just smacking the person who wronged you. Also, that person totally doesn't deserve forgiveness. They deserve an eye for an eye! They deserve quid pro quo ! They deserve to feel bad forever!
Also, it's hard.
On the other hand, doing away with the whole forgiveness requirement would make Christianity a whole lot less, well, Christian.
See, here's the thing: You think forgiving your ex is hard? Try being a deity, getting a body and entering history to try to bring your creations back to you because you love them so much, and then getting killed by them. Now, that's hard to forgive.
But somehow, God did. Right? Isn't that why we're here? Isn't that what your church is built on, what inspired the music your choir sings, what made them write the Bible you read, what saved the world you live in ?
You know what would make Christianity a lot easier ? Doing away with the whole forgiveness thing.
But then, what would be the point ?
God, I know You wouldn't ask this of me if You didn't have a plan for helping me do it. So, thanks for any help You can send my way.
Forgiveness and reconciliation are urgently needed in our church family and in our wider community now. Almost everywhere we look, neighbors and family members are enmeshed in grudges, old quarrels, and despising one another. Repairing broken relationships is a wonderful project for the holy season of Lent.
First, we ought to thank God for any and every relationship we are in which is loving and kind and free of these obstacles to God’s grace. Make a list of your healthy, reconciled relationships and thank God for them: then call or write the people you have listed, and bless them !
Second, review all of the broken and damaged relationships in your network of people. Sisters or brothers; parents; daughters and sons; the people next door and those across town; the ones who owe you money and the ones you’re indebted to; folks from church and from work, play, or school. Then set about praying for each one. Meditate on ways that, by the grace of God, you might forgive and make amends and repair the breaches… or at least let them know that you are ready to try.
We have seen miracles of healing in the bodies of individuals: God also works miracles between members of His body the church, and between neighbors.
Taking inventory of your relationships in this way could open your eyes to some blessed opportunities God is holding out for you, to make your life more like God intended it… forgiven.
Always remember, Jesus gave himself in love for the very people who crucified him.