Friday, June 10, 2011

One True Thing: Forgiveness

This week is vacation time for the Hollenbach clan. We invited friends to stay in our home and we hit the road: 13 states in 10 days (3,000 miles!). So this week is retro-post “One True Thing Week,” in which I share previous posts about the truest things I know. Today: Forgiveness.

From May, 2010: Beautiful People?

This weekend I read a touching and transparent blog post by Jon Reid called “Repentance.”  Jon details attending a leadership retreat for his church, The Journey, located in San Jose, California. I’ve never been to The Journey, but I can assure you it’s a church capable of making big-time mistakes: mistakes in representing the Lord Jesus, the gospel, or mistakes that would certainly provide good reason for those who are wounded to hold enmity against the people in leadership. I know this because The Journey is staffed by people, and people can be a real pain in the . . . well, you know.

Jon mentions his own history of frustration and pain, disagreement and ambivalence (even now) toward The Journey, yet found himself in close and apparently revealing quarters with the church’s leadership team. Jon found them to be “beautiful people,” even though clearly he has been at odds with some of them. And this impressed me.

I wondered if I had ever referred to those who had hurt me as “beautiful people.” I’ve certainly been willing to give others the benefit of a doubt, but also reserved the right to consider them misguided, selfish, clueless, or even wicked. I’m not sure “Beautiful” has ever made it into my list of adjectives. Perhaps they could become beautiful if they would just see things correctly (and I’d be glad to enlighten them on that account).

So this meditation is an invitation to us all. Without excusing selfish and sinful behavior for even a moment, I believe we have to acknowledge Jesus himself chose to “staff” churches with . . . people. And people can be a real pain in the--well, you know. In my frustration I’ve frequently turned to Colossians 3: 12-14. Perhaps it will hold some meaning for you, too:
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
Either Jesus miscalculated, or part of our own personal spiritual formation depends upon practicing these words. Admiring these words is not enough: the life of God is found in the act of living them out. But where? Then I think to myself, “where else can I put these words into practice--other than my family and my church?” I never seem to come up with a better answer than either of those two places. Blessings abundant to you, Jon, and to all of us on our journey.

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