When Forgiveness is Hard

I’m really not good at forgiveness.

That’s probably not how I should start this blog post. What I’m bad at.

I’ve been attending this church in the Valley that I like quite a bit, mostly because it’s a culmination of all the churches I’ve been to in the last five years. Sunday, we talked about idolatry in the context of the book of Acts. How we’ve refined it past stone images.

For some, it’s comfort.

Others, it’s security.

Me? I’m pretty entitled when it comes to reconciliation.

The word itself-reconciliation-is not bad in it of itself but I twist it into something I must have. Something I’ll beat a dead horse to get.

Because deep within all of us is this desire to be forgiven. We need to know that we can fail and still be loved and accepted.

We need to hear that we’ve been forgiven.

There’s something that breaks inside of me when I apologize and I’m not forgiven. It’s this raw hurt that eats away at me when I’m met with silence or anger. Something has not been fulfilled in the relationships in the church when we refuse to live out the act of the cross because to do so otherwise would be to lay ourselves down for a repentant person.

And who wants that? Why tell a sinner they are capable of redemption?

I’m in an interesting place in my life. On the one hand, going through a mental health crisis led me to do some incredibly stupid things, things that I have reached out to apologize for with no forgiveness extended back.

On the other hand, my crisis led people I love to do incredibly stupid things that I need to forgive them for.

I crossed my arms in defiance on Sunday. If grown, religious men couldn’t extend forgiveness to me, why should I have to forgive my friends?

I wanted to experience forgiveness first before I was willing to forgive anyone else.

That’s idolatry.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ – Matthew 7:21-23

The will of God is for His children to reflect Christ in all aspects of our lives, to all people. God has this way of pointing us to reflect Christ most to the people we’d like to forget.

Too often, we do this Christian thing backwards. We plant churches, start ministries and lead community groups first and then we focus on reflecting Christ. And usually, we only reflect Jesus when it’s comfortable and easy. With our friends. With our families. With new people who haven’t hurt us yet.

But God isn’t impressed with how many churches we plant. Lead 10. Plant 17 more. We didn’t earn God’s grace by our merits.

Do His will.

I’ll try to do the same.


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