Forgiveness. We all want to be the recipient of it … after all, “all have sinned and fall short …” At the macro level, we have sinned against God, we have fallen short of His glory, and thus all right-thinking people understand our need for His forgiveness, mercy and grace. But even at the micro level, we need to be forgiven. Not only have we sinned against God, but we also sin against people created in God’s image. So many times we are in need of the forgiveness of another.
We all want to be the recipient of forgiveness – from God (unto salvation), and from others (unto peace and reconciliation). We all want to be a part of a faith community that celebrates the forgiveness we have from God and practices this forgiveness to us. But what about when we are the one who has been offended? What about when we are the one being asked “will you forgive me for the harm I caused TO YOU?” Well, that is a bit more difficult, isn’t it? We want to receive forgiveness freely, but to grant forgiveness conditionally.
Movies give us models of Avengers who “right the wrongs” or vigilantes who dish out payback … but where are the models of forgiveness in our world today? Well, these models should be in the church. After all, all true church members understand that they have been forgiven MUCH by God, therefore, they should be the first to extend forgiveness to others … but ARE churches places of forgiveness? Reviews are mixed.
What is clear, though, is that on the pages of the New Testament we see amazing examples of forgiveness. The chief example, or course, is God our Father forgiving us in Christ. However, there are also other examples of the followers of Jesus forgiving one another in light of what Jesus has done. One of those examples is found in 2 Corinthians 2:5-11.
Apparently a man had done some pretty hurtful and damaging things to the Apostle Paul … things that required the church to act to protect the reputation and integrity of the local church. It is even possible that the man who had hurt Paul was asked to leave the fellowship of believers in Corinth for a time. At some point in the midst of this discipline, the offending party apparently repented of their sin. Though the church in Corinth eventually disciplined the man in his sin, how would they treat him in his repentance? And what was Paul’s stance on the matter (since he was the one in the crosshairs of the abuse in the first place)?
This is the situation we will be looking at in part 3 of our “Mission: Prep” series this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 services. We will be looking at how we should respond to a repentant brother or sister in Christ who sin against us … at the corporate church level. Two weeks ago, we saw that the “comforted comfort.” This week we will see that the “forgiven forgive.” Part of our preparation for the mission is to practice forgiveness as a church assembly.
Hope to see you Sunday for worship, communion, and study of God’s Word. See you there … and bring friends!