When I left that church he remained very supportive - for a time. As the issues between myself and the Rev. Not Appearing in This Blog (senior pastor) became more public, he sided with the pastor, and I understood. By the time my fall came in in 2007 he had removed himself from my life, but learning of my very public sin seemed to be the final straw. I wouldn't have known that except that his family wound up leaving that church as well and ending up at the same church we attend these days. For the past 3+ years our families have sat in the same worship service listening to a great pastor who often preaches grace and forgiveness as cornerstones of following Jesus. His wife has been very gracious and friendly to us on numerous occasions. His son always speaks to me. But this fine Christian man (and I mean that- he is a man of God and a great husband and father) has gone out of his way to never have any contact with me. I am persona non grata to him. It seems there will be no forgiveness coming from him for my transgressions. And I have to admit it bothers me.
It bothers me because in the depths of my heart I really believe he should forgive me. I sinned. I repented. I gave public confessions. I did not slander others (when I easily could have) to help him see that there was more to the situation than he knows. I have given him time and space to get past my actions and have acknowledged that my actions must have felt like a betrayal of our friendship. And on days like this past Sunday, when our pastor spoke of Psalm 51 and the sins and confessions of David and how he was forgiven and even HONORED by God, I often glance across the room at this man and think, "What IS your problem?" How can a man who claims to be (and is!) such a strong believer have so little grace and forgiveness in his heart for me? And in my heart, I judge him.
No doubt you see the problem by now. In all of my worry and fear about why he has never forgiven me for the things I did, I have begun to refuse to forgive him for the way he has treated me. I was a sinner and that offended him. His unwillingness to forgive offends me. And we are both offending Jesus through our actions.
I need to take my first step into the #DangerDays of 2014. It is time for me to forgive him and seek to honor him with the love of God whose name is Jesus by going to him and simply being friendly. It will do no good to offer him words of forgiveness- he most likely has no idea what he needs to be forgiven for at this point. But I can offer words of grace and of friendship. He may not accept them. He may reject me. And even after all this time, that will hurt. But part of taking risks in our walk with Christ is being willing to suffer for doing the right things. The right things are for me to pray for him, to take the first step and go him in friendship, and to forgive him in my heart. So I will. I know it will lift a burden from me, and be one more step down the road to my #COMEBACK. It won't be easy to approach him, so pray for me and give me some shoves in the right direction so that I will get this done this month.
And remember- sometimes we are so focused on receiving forgiveness for the things we have done that we fail to forgive those who do not forgive us. It's a trap. Followers of Jesus are called to hand out grace & forgiveness like they are potato chips from a bottomless bag. Everybody needs more than one! I want to be willing to step out in faith and be that potato chip guy. Join me?
Because of Jesus,