Saturday, November 22, 2014

Forgiveness or reconciliation?

Ran across this yesterday in an interview with Anne Graham Lotz.
Lotz spoke of the need for those who have been wronged to forgive those who have wronged them and avoid clinging to bitter feelings. Forgiveness, she said, was "a choice, not a feeling. The reason is because God says so. It's not because they deserve it; it's an act of worship. The only reason I would forgive this person is because God says so and because Jesus has forgiven me, so because I love Jesus I forgive someone else."

Refusing to forgive because it would somehow mean that the other person had 'got away with it' was "like drinking the poison hoping the other person will die. So to refuse to forgive, to hang on to bitterness, resentment, anger, because you think that if you release it they'll will get [away] with what they did: that's killing yourself, it doesn't hurt them.

"So we release that for our own selves if nothing else, for our own moral, spiritual and emotional health. But God says, vengeance is mine, I will repay. God will deal with that person. He is a just God, a loving God, and he has mercy, but there are people in my life who have hurt me and wounded me so deeply, and I'll let it go, because in the end God sees and in the end he will sort it out."

However, she added: "There's a difference between offering forgiveness and reconciliation. Reconciliation takes two people. You can't reconcile with someone unless the other person is willing.

"There are relationships I have that are not reconciled, but I believe I have forgiven everyone I know that has wounded me.

"I live my life for God's pleasure. The worse the wound, the harder it is to forgive, but the greater the act of worship."

She spoke of the importance of building healthy relationships in churches, saying: "We have to be good forgivers. We can't allow ourselves to be easily hurt. Some people are just very easily offended. You just look at the them the wrong way and they've read into it and they're offended.

<idle musing>
That's probably why Peter says "as much as lies within you" to be at peace with all. Reconciliation takes two. Forgiveness is what we do and it is unilateral, but it will affect the way we interact with others, hopefully resulting in reconciliation. But even if it doesn't we are called to forgive.

It also sheds light on the verse in 2 Cor 5: in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... (NRSV). But we have to be willing to be reconciled to God in order for the whole thing to happen...I think, anyway. Not sure I'm doing a good job of expressing what I'm thinking here...
</idle musing>

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