A power to forgive stronger than the power of the pain that resists forgiving
Christians living out the gospel’s implications together in community is a significant means by which the greater community is reached with the gospel. We have all heard I Pet 3:15 quoted in the context of apologetics. But the idea was that Christians were living in such a way before others that onlookers were provoked to ask, “What’s up? Why do you guys hang that way? Why do you love & care for one another so deeply?” And then comes the answer – Jesus! That’s why at Restore we treasure incarnational missional living.
Unfortunately, but realistically, in a fallen world redeemed people still have problems with one another (I know, big surprise!). We are offended, hurt, even sinned against by another brother or sister. And the pain experienced often gets in the way of extending true reconciling forgiveness because forgiveness requires letting go of the pain. Pain sears itself into our hearts like a hot iron & wraps it’s deadly tentacles around our minds like a killer octopus. We find ourselves utterly unable to look past the scars & hack through the tentacles. Bitterness & deception begin to seep into our thinking. Rather than being an attractive community to those watching, we mirror the very relational conflicts they themselves experience.
What we need is a power to forgive stronger than the power of the pain that resists forgiving. We have this in Jesus! He suffered the ultimate pain to forgive us so that we might absorb the pain necessary to forgive others. In ourselves we have no power to forgive. In Christ we have no excuse not to. The power to forgive others is found in the forgiveness we have received from God. We are called to bend the gospel’s vertical forgiveness horizontally to others.
Any body of believers that wants to be an attractive community to onlookers & a winsome apologetic for the gospel must practice these truths of Colossians 3:12-14. You can find my sermon on this text, Faithful & Free Followers Forgive, here.
By constantly applying the gospel may Restore Church (& yours) be a beautiful breathing advertisement for Jesus!