A few years ago, I preached a sermon about “things I see when I close my eyes”. One of those things was… A GROUP OF PEOPLE LIVING LIFE TOGETHER AT A DEEPER LEVEL THAN THEY EVER EXPECTED.”
At RiverStone, we believe that the Kingdom of God is primarily relational, not simply functional… it’s about who we are with each other, not just what we do. We believe we were made for community.
Graham Cooke said…“THE DREAM OF GOD HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO LIVE IN THE HEARTS OF HIS PEOPLE, NOT JUST IN INDIVIDUAL HEARTS, BUT IN THE CORPORATE HEART.”
One thing we have learned about community is this… it doesn’t just happen. Community is something that must be pursued. In fact, community is something that comes as we pursue love. The church is called to be a place of healing and redemption. A place where broken relationships are restored. MORE THAN ANY OTHER PLACE, the church should be a forgiving, healing place where hurts and differences can be overcome.
Forgiveness in the church is a necessity. GOD’S CALLING CARD IS RECONCILIATION. The purpose of the cross is to make possible the reconciliation of people to God. God is so committed to reconciliation that He was willing for Jesus to suffer and die in order to make it possible. God’s nature is to forgive. His heart is for reconciliation.
When wronged, we typically respond in one of three ways…
1. Revenge…don’t get mad, get even.
2. Hide or withdraw…to keep from being hurt again, or to engage in self-pity.
3. Hatred…let bitterness and resentment take over. STEW AND BOIL.
As Christians we are forgiven people. But we can never fully appreciate and enjoy God’s forgiveness unless we are willing to forgive others.
FORGIVENESS IS NOT:
1. A FEELING
2. PRETENDING YOU WERE NOT HURT
3. SAYING WHAT THEY DID WASN’T WRONG
4. FORGETTING WHAT HAPPENED
5. RANSOM OR PROBATION…IF YOU EVER DO IT AGAIN!
WE NEED TO FORGIVE BECAUSE IF WE DON’T…
1. WE BLOCK GOD’S FORGIVENESS. Matt 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
2. WE WILL SUFFER.
PHYSICALLY… sickness. (psalm 32:3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away.)
EMOTIONALLY…through stress and anger.
SPIRITUALLY…through famine. Isaiah 59:2 “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not heal you.” Matthew 5 tells us that our worship is affected by our lack of forgiveness. “If you’re offering your gift at the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there…go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
RELATIONALLY. Not only are we estranged from the one we haven’t forgiven, but we have a tendency to avoid relationships for fear of being hurt again.
3. WE OPEN THE DOOR TO DEMONIC ACTIVITY. Ephesians 4:26-27 “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL A FOOTHOLD.”
4. AND…BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE MESSED UP. People NEED forgiveness! I do! You do! They do!
Forgiveness is not ignoring each other’s faults. It is learning to deal with them in a Christ like way.
I’M SORRY, I WAS WRONG. PLEASE FORGIVE ME.
I FORGIVE YOU. LET’S START OVER.