EMAIL DEVOTIONAL EPIPHANY 6
Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church* sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven* times. (Matthew 18:21-22)
It was the question of the day this morning … “But what do I do if the person I am trying to forgive, doesn’t want to be forgiven?” It came up in our Crosspoints Sunday School class where we were studying “good works”, and at New Day following worship, where our lesson for the day mentioned forgiveness. The struggle resulted from the idea of forgiveness being a “relational” event. Unless both the offending and the offended parties are committed to restoring the relationship that has been broken, it won’t work. Try as you might, you cannot make reconciliation happen on your own. It is relationship, and thus is can be held hostage by one of the partners in the relationship. We struggle with that as Christians. Most of the time we struggle because those from whom we are estranged resist reconciliation. And truth be told, sometimes we are the ones who resist.
So this got me thinking … thinking about the tension in the Christian faith between our “solo” work and our “ensemble” work. There are things we do for God alone, and things we do with others. Most of the things we do as the people of God can be done alone or communally. You can pray on your knees at the side of your bed, or standing side by side with a few hundred believers. You can study and learn about the faith at your desk at home or around a Bible Study table of a dozen believers. You can companion a person in need and be a servant by yourself as you drive that person to the doctor, or you help reach out in a group serving a meal or working in a clothing bank. It is the beauty of the Christian experience. Any size church works, as does any size study group or service ministry.
So in your prayer and reflection this week, consider for a few moments how you do your best faith work … alone or with others. Many times that preference will grow out of some gifts and charisms that God has placed within you. I would imagine you understand yourself well enough to know how best to use your spiritual gifts. (If not, try taking our Spiritual Gifts Inventory on the church web site – yes, that was a shameless plug!) But in the week ahead, why don’t you invite God to challenge you to try something different in terms of how you serve, or pray, or learn, or worship. Maybe it will be something out of your usual comfort zone. Maybe it will be something you come to like. Maybe it will be something that God needs to have done.