“The community of the saints is not an “ideal” community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance. No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God’s forgiveness…Sanctification means driving out the world from the Church as well as separating the Church from the world. But the purpose of such discipline is not to establish a community of the perfect, but a community consisting of men who really live under the forgiving mercy of God.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
I never expected to be disliked–especially among a group of fellow believers. But during the last few months, I’ve discovered truths that have long been avoided– perhaps out of my own naïveté or a false sense of the goodness of humanity.
The lessons have been difficult. Painful. Revealing. Still, they only confirm my belief that a Christian is not someone without sin–merely a person who realizes her need for something more…Someone more.
Thank you, Jesus, for being that someone!
As a child, I rarely felt accepted. Quiet and unassuming, I was an easy target for playground bullies and lunchroom remarks. During my teen years, I was the girl everyone liked–but nobody thought was special. And now, I’m reminded that even adults feel the sting of rejection. Perhaps you are struggling with that hurt, as well. Be encouraged, Friend!
Consider those the world disregarded because they held unapologetically to God’s standard. Noah? Just a crazed old man shouting out useless warnings–until the day the clouds let loose their wrath. Moses? A prince turned pauper begging the most powerful king in the world to release thousands of Hebrew slaves–laughable. Then, the King of all severed a sea in half–the road to freedom revealed by God’s own hand. Christ himself suffered the ultimate rejection–death– at the hands of family….friends….and people who chose a murderer to a miracle worker. But three days later? They found the stone rolled away.
You are in good company if you have been slandered, maligned, or disregarded for doing the right thing…if you have spoken the truth in love…or lived your faith out loud as a workman unashamed. Isn’t it better for us to face the possibility of human rejection than to willingly brush off the obligation to share words of gentle rebuke or correction with a fellow Christian we claim to love? If we don’t risk an offense then we do not love.
And, if our fears are realized? If that person now counts herself an enemy? Or, her anger and discontent infect the Body? We are responsible to respond as Christ did when he was surrounded by those gaping and sneering at his mangled body hanging on the tree…”Father, forgive them.”
Forgiveness–in spite of anger…the need to self-promote…the temptation to respond in kind. This is when faith becomes real, dear one. Let’s choose Christ today–choose to forgive.
Reminders from Scripture
“…and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20
“…he alone is my Rock, my rescuer, defense and fortress.” Psalm 62
“When you are reviled and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers—wonderful! 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! for a tremendous reward awaits you up in heaven.” Matthew 5:11
“Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.” 1 Corinthians 13:15