July 1, 2017
Forgiveness Heals Relationships
July 1, 2017
This week’s sermon text: Genesis 2:1-3
Luke shows Jesus teaching his disciples to forgive within their closely bound fellowship. Jesus is realistic. In any community, members sometimes cause hurt to each other. Sin keeps us from living in true relationship with God and our neighbors. Jesus sees the gravest danger as a situation in which a more mature member causes a “little one” (one who is new to the life of faith) to stumble or be hindered from growing stronger and more faithful. This teaching applies, not only to Jesus’ followers in Galilee, but also to Luke’s own early church community, and it applies to our congregations today.
As models, mature Christians need to show forgiveness to others. Jesus’ standards are strict. We’re asked to rebuke members who sin against others and forgive them when they ask forgiveness. John Wesley followed this teaching, and he called for members who strayed to be guided back, first seeking forgiveness. This was an essential part of the Bands and Class Meetings, small groups where everyone, including the leaders, held each other accountable.
My 7th grade teacher used to look heavenward several times a day and intone, “Give me patience.” Jesus expects patience even if you are facing a roomful of rowdy students. Even if a person sins all day long and asks for forgiveness every hour on the hour, we are to forgive. The apostles know how hard this is, and in verse 5, cry out, “Increase our faith!” Only a faithful, loving Christian who knows how to forgive as God forgives, can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, lead others to the life of service and joy in Christ, surrounded and overflowing with God’s extravagant grace.
Questions for the Field
- Can we be accountable to each other in today’s congregations?
- Do we trust each other enough to be willing to accept another’s criticism of our behavior or actions?
- What are the opportunities for us to model Christian love and service for the new members or confirmands of our congregation?
Family Field Talk
- When do you show people the love that Jesus asked us to have for each other?
- How can you help the children you know learn to act in the ways Jesus taught?
- What can you do on the playground, at the pool, or in the school that is helpful and kind to other people?
God, our Teacher, you listen when we seek forgiveness. You have patience when we try to change. Open us to receiving help when we need it and forgiveness when we ask it. Keep us from hurtful ways and give us open heart. In the name of Jesus. Amen.