Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 19, 2020
If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one… For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. Matthew 18:15, 20
Jesus believes forgiveness is central to our identity as disciples and is meant to be a foundation upon which our common life is built. Yet there are many ways that we might hear and interpret these words. What, in fact, does it mean to forgive someone? What is distinctly Christian about Jesus’ vision of forgiveness within the Church? How do these ancient words shape and inform our lives today?
Simply put, I believe forgiveness aims to remove isolation. It is always oriented towards the good and upbuilding of the other. If ever we point out the fault in someone else, it is to “regain them” and see a broken relationship restored. In this way, Jesus assumes a motivation of love and charity in all things, seeking the good and reconciliation of the other. It is, as St. Augustine said, the invitation to “Love God and do whatever you please.” You and I are free to do as we please, yet we are constrained and compelled at the same time by the love of God and meant to have that love animate and inspire our freedom. And when we live by love, we join our Lord in a mission to end isolation.
Sin is not simply breaking a rule or giving into temptation. At its core, sin is the loss of intimacy and community and an entry into a self-made exile. When we view sin this way, we are also able to see the profoundly relational side of the gospel. Jesus Christ came to end humanity’s self-made isolation by breaking down the wall that separates us from God and from one another. Therefore, when we as the people of God choose to live in reconciled love with one another, we image to the world the very nature of God!
The church is a family of people who were formerly isolated, self-consumed, untrusting, and suspicious of others. Through the kindness of God, we are invited to become by grace what Jesus is by nature: sons and daughters of God who belong to a community of love living in perfect and self-giving unity. Our world seems to have lost all imagination and hope for forgiveness and restoration of the other, or perhaps it was never there in the first place! And so in this winner-take-all world, may God help us as his people to embody a better way, striving to love one another as we have been loved by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, may the life of your church reflect the transformative power of forgiveness and reconciliation that we know in Jesus our Lord. Amen.
What does it look like for you in this season to bear with brothers and sisters in the faith in perfect love, longing to be reconciled as a picture of the restoration we know in Christ?
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Jesus Christ came to end humanity’s self-made isolation by breaking down the wall that separates us from God and from one another. #wisdomhunters #isolation #truth #Jesus
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