Monday, May 19, 2008

Forgiveness. It's Not For Everyone.

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.


Carol - CDCversion said...

Wow, Heather, what an honest, heart-rendering post. You have nailed the problem in the church world...our judgemental attitudes and unforgiving hearts. How can we show Christ's love to the world as long as we are going to harbor our selfish, prideful thoughts that causes us to be critical and condemning. Naw...there's a better way. Every time I look at the life of Christ, I see Him reaching out to the sinners...the rejected ones in His society. He was much more at peace with them than he was with the Sunday School teachers and the deacons and the circuit riding preachers who thought they had a corner on God and could interpret the rules better than anyone else. In other words, the Pharisees of His day...He saw right through them and their motives. He sees through us. We are all capable of falling...and failing...and messing up our lives. I'm so glad He stands there with arms open wide to hug us, or He reaches out His hand to pick us up, or He wipes away the tears of our fact He bottles them up. They are precious to Him.

Well, you got me going...didn't mean to get carried away. You pretty well summed up the problem, and I just wanted to say I hear you, and I make myself vulnerable to Jesus Christ so that He will continue to work on me and my attitudes, and love through me, not in spite of me!

Darla said...

Beth Moore has a book called "when Godly people do ungodly things" most excellent and goes well with your post...there is a warning to all this.."do not judge lest ye be judged" Jesus blood covers all sins and everyone who asks...unfortunately people who have never been in a pit to speak of are probably in one now...or there is one with their name on it..Love your heart Princess!

Heather said...

Carol- You are right. This is a problem in the churches and in our hearts. I know I am not the only who struggles. I didn't even realize I struggled. See, I don't seem to have a problem forgiving someone who has REALLY hurt me. I have trouble forgiving 'small' offenses. God was kind enough to point that out to me:) Thanks for your encouraging words!!! I love ya!

Darla- I'm doing a Bible Study by Beth Moore right now called Breaking Free. She is quite amazing. I think I will definitely look into the one you mentioned. I had looked at it before. Love YOUR heart Princess!!!

Robin said...

Forgiveness is a powerful healer. I have some neat forgiveness stories that I may share at some point.

girlymama said...

forgiveness is one of the hardest things... even when you say the words "i forgive you" its hard to truly mean them in your heart...

Simplifying me said...

I just read this blog today.

I am truly thankful for your note the past week. I feel your true heart to forgive and extend grace. Even to those who we "feel" don't deserve it.

That's the beauty of grace....we don't deserve it yet God gives it to us anyway.

I am trying each day to be a grace giver because IIII need it so desperately. God is teaching me throug all this mess that I call my life.

Thank you for your hugs, your love and your prayers. They are a welcome and grace giving blessing.