I just got off the phone with a woman who has become a dear friend.
I love listening to her process her journey of forgiveness and repentance.
She’s the real deal.
Meaning, though she had an affair with the Pastor of the church she used to attend, she’s truly repented.
Because being Christian does not mean we will not sin, but when we do, we will repent.
Part of that repentance will involve opening our hearts up to the probe of God’s love and discipline as He begins spiritual heart surgery.
It will mean not minimizing the pain we caused ourselves and others.
It will also mean gazing into the eyes of the One who died to heal that very pain and receive the truth that His blood cleanses us of our sin.
Even as we see the damage it caused and experience deep sorrow.
It’s going into the fire of God’s love and transformation-
while we open our ears to His Spirit-
in the face of those who will not hesitate to throw stones.
It’s so very true- some sins feel unforgivable. They are gut-wrenching sins making it hard to breath. For many.
I think of both Judas and Peter. The revelation of how they sinned once it hit their heart was unbearable for one and fatal for the other.
Of course they both knew what they were doing was wrong.
What they didn’t understand was that underneath their respective sins was the greatest sin of all…..unbelief.
They simply didn’t believe Jesus was their all in all.
They didn’t trust that He would take care of them.
They were fighting for their “right” to be protected and provided for…..in the wrong way.
It’s what our hearts cry out for-
Protection and provision.
In the form of genuine love.
Back to my friend-
The mess around her is still swirling.
The consequences are multifaceted; some that make sense, others that are as wrong as the sin she committed.
I truly understand her plight. And I will be forever sad I do.
At the same time, I am THANKFUL I understand. For her sake.
I love telling her she is going to be okay.
I love telling her that this too will be used for her transformation…..which is what our souls long for.
To look more like Jesus.
She longs for and welcomes this.
But what about those she’s betrayed? The ones I betrayed?
The ones who took a direct hit from our selfishness and those who watched on the sidelines?
How does forgiveness look in these situations?
Situations that go beyond those offenses that are “easier” to overlook or express our choice to forgive.
Once again, without over simplifying, we choose forgiveness, even if others will not.
We go into it -most of the time- kicking and screaming as the one being sinned against AND for the repentant, the one who sinned.
We are shocked.
By our own sin, the sin of others and the responses that come with it.
The confusion that begins to form over our minds are like the darkest of storm clouds forming as a tornado approaches.
and sometimes, we despair our own life.
It’s in this place we have no where to turn for healing but God. And the truly repentant know it and do it.
Because it’s only in this place we will survive the processes of others as they choose to forgive or not.
It will be messy.
Some will work through the choice to forgive beautifully as they have received the sweet mercy of God in their own lives for sins that deeply hurt others.
“For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much, but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47
People who have a revelation of how much they’ve been forgiven know that offering mercy is the kindest way to lead someone to look at their actions and feel true godly sorrow.
They know the transforming power of mercy.
Because they were offered it, drank it up and were changed forever by it!
However, others will form self-righteous judgements, accusations and gossip.
They have not yet grasped that though their sin looks different, they still need the mercy of God.
Most of us have struggled through this to one degree or another.
It’s in this place, as believers, we need to look at how we love those who have sinned against us and how we love those who choose not to forgive.
After all, as sons and daughters of God, we will one day be seeing one another on the streets of gold.
So…..for us, forgiveness is not an option.
But how that plays out in the Body of Christ needs a closer look.
The scenarios are exhaustive and the topics are sensitive.
Being sexually abused as a little girl makes this very real for me.
Never to use as an excuse for my own sinful behavior but to identify those sins that have the potential to take the life out of us.
Yes all sin is forgivable in Christ but not all sin is equally damaging in our relationships with one another and to our own soul.
So……come back if you are willing to explore what it means to forgive AND reconcile.
Some have formed strong opinions about this topic and care little to listen to something that may challenge them.
I’ve heard these opinions, read about them, and stay in prayer over them.
My beliefs about these issues are formed and still being formed.
I learn more by listening, taking it to God’s Word and discussing it with others.
And the more I talk with others, I’m learning this is where the fruit of God’s healing is seen-
in our willingness to listen, to be heard and to take it to God, together.
In the end, as children of God, we end up together for eternity.
And I have a hunch that God is pleased when we are willing to say,
“Not our will, but Your will be done,” in these painful, messy situations.
Jesus, help us.