Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Col. 3:13 NLT
We get so easily hurt with our church family, don’t we? We have such high expectations on how others should behave toward us, especially believers. We are so quick to pull the trigger, walk away offended, wounded, and angry. We would rather die old, alone, and offended, than to forgive, release compassion, and work to maintain our relationships. Our indulgence in a victim mentality is at times most pathetic. Our woundedness becomes an excuse to withdraw, lick our wounds, and shed our committments to our church family.
We need to repent of our self-pity, unforgiveness, and hypocrisy. We were not the first people to be hurt at church nor we will be the last. We need to live what the New Testament teaches about releasing others from their real, or imagined, offenses. Our call is to live the life of service, patience, and unselfishness, the same life we expect from others.
We need to allow the Jesus that lives in us to be patience, forgiveness, and lovingkindness in our church relationships. Our calling as “holy ones” requires us to lay down our lives for others especially those who have offended us. Jesus had every reason to walk away from us for we have disappointed him many times, yet he still loves us, and pours out his mercy upon us.
You must expect that these poor sinners in the Church are going to get hurt and that they are going to hurt each other. To be let down by the Church is not a reason to leave her, any more than to be let down by your family is a reason to give up family life and move to a desert island. Are there any who have not been hurt by members of their family?
In his City of God, St. Augustine wisely observed that it breaks the heart of any good person to see that even in one’s own home one is not in a safe place and that one may be attacked even there by an enemy posing as a friend or even by an enemy who used to be a loved one. If we all gave up on the human race because we have been hurt, we’d have to move to separate planets.
Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Arise from Darkness