(Excerpts from Called by God to Serve; Reflections for Church Leaders by Robert F. Holley & Paul E. Walters)
“[Jesus said] Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.” Luke 12:2-3
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
Schools are expected to be safe places for children to learn. Families are expected to be places of love and happiness. Similarly, churches are expected to be places of peace, free from conflict. When conflict and anger appear, people make remarks.
“I cannot believe this is happening here.”
“(Church – Home – School) should not be like this.”
“I will never forgive you.”
To be in relationship with others means there will be pain. Sometimes words are spoken in anger. We are not always open, honest, gracious, and loving with one another. God knows relationships depend on forgiveness. If we are to be together we need to be forgivers. Knowing this, God forgives us from the beginning. On the cross on that lonely hilltop Jesus Christ stretched out his arms to forgive all. We have a relationship with God because God so deeply desires it. We are forgiven our sins, our betrayals, our failures, and our destructiveness. We have a relationship with God only because God makes it possible. In response to God’s mercy we are called to forgive one another, to love one another with the love we know in Christ.
In his prayer, our Lord calls us to forgive one another as we ourselves have been forgiven. Forgiveness begins with confession. We confess that we are sinners and are in need of the grace of God that will forgive us. Only as we faithfully seek God’s forgiveness and know we are given it in the cross of Christ can we then forgive one another; it is his grace bearing love in us.
In Christ, we are called to forgive. However, forgiving is not easy and forgiving is not a matter of being right or wrong. Forgiveness is
NOT only for those we forgive; forgiveness is for ourselves. When we forgive someone, we free ourselves from the hold they have over us. Anxiety binds and limits us, forgiveness and grace set us free to be the best we are as the people of God.
- Kathy Wagner