I was visiting Without Wax the other day and read an open letter to a church from a former Pastor who had 'fell'. Hard. As I read about his downward spiral and his journey of hope, I was amazed at the redemptive work of Christ in his life. More so, I was saddened at how unforgiving we 'Christians' can be.
God has been speaking to me about forgiveness for a few weeks now. Which I thought was so strange. I really didn't feel as if forgiveness was an issue for me. Apparently it is. Why?
Why do we (Christians) find it so hard to forgive? Better yet, why do we feel we have a right to judge? We all know what the Bible says, right? We are to forgive others and we are to leave judgement to the Lord. We know that. It is head knowledge for anyone who is claiming to be a Christian. It's one of the first things we learn as a Christian. Forgiveness was the first thing we experienced when we became followers of Christ.
Do you remember that feeling? The feeling of euphoria when you realized that the Lord God Almighty loved you and forgave you? If you were like me, it took you a while to fully accept that forgiveness. You didn't feel 'worthy'. You couldn't forgive yourself. You just didn't understand how God could forgive all of your wicked ways. The longer you walked with Christ, though, you began to understand that you aren't worthy of forgiveness and you never will be. It is because of how Great He is, not how great you are. You eventually begin to accept it. It becomes a familiar friend to you. Now, years later, you readily accept it. You flaunt it. You keep it. Unwilling to part with it.
Did you see what she did? Did you hear about so and so? I am so glad I'm not her. Why is she giving me that look? She thinks she is so much better than everybody else. Judgement. Pride. Unforgiveness. Put whatever label on it you want. It's sin and it's so unpleasing to God.
We speak often of Christians being persecuted, but how many people do we 'Christians' persecute? We often become judge, jury, and executioner all in one clean swoop. Maybe we don't say it out loud, but in our minds we have crucified that person in a manner consistent with the way Christ was put to death. Only......Christ was resurrected. The people we have crucified often lay in the tombs of our mind forever with no hope of resurrection.
For me, it's easy to forgive an ex-Pastor who really messed up. It wasn't in my church. It didn't affect me, personally. I have faith that God is doing a redeeming work in this man's life and that God still has a plan for him. It saddens me that there are people (Christians) who continue to want this man to pay for the hurt he has caused. As if he hasn't/isn't paying a price daily. But.....what about that driver that cut me off? What about my daughter who has turned her back on Christ? What about that fellow Christian who 'snubbed' me at church? What if it had been my Pastor? A man that I deeply care for and look to for guidance. Would I stand by him offering him encouragement, love, and forgiveness or would I imprison him with constant reminders of how 'awful' his sin was and how much he let me down?
I have learned that forgiveness, pride, and judgement are all qualities that I possess. I no longer wish to have them, but I am incapable of ridding them from my life. God, however, is very capable. I desire to be the woman that He has created me to be. A woman of forgiveness who does not judge others, but encourages and loves all of His people. Especially the ones who hurt me.
Now, please forgive me if this post makes no sense to you. It really was an out pouring of my heart, not my head. I want my children to realize....I don't have it all together.
Because they sooooo thought I did.