Grounded in heritage: Reaching out with the love of Jesus
Pastor Rosemary and Joe
Partners in Ministry
Heart Forgiveness 2, September 24, 2017
September 26th, 2017
Heart Forgiveness 2
Ephesians 4:30-32 and Matthew 18:21-35
(Quoted scripture is New International Version)
When you were a child, what did you dream about being when you grew up? Did you dream about being a teacher, a nurse, an architect, an accountant, an engineer, a fireman, a police officer, or a musician, or something else? In America, there are numerous opportunities to become what we dream to be, if we have the passion and are willing to work towards achieving our dream.
What about people who are bound in the chains of addiction? What about people who grow up to be rapists and murderers? What do you think they dreamed of being when they grew up? You hear me say often, ‘We are in this moment in time whom we have been, the sum of all our life experiences.’
I agree with Desmond Tutu when he says, “People are not born hating each other and wishing to cause harm. It is a learned condition. Children do not dream of growing up to be rapists or murderers, and yet every rapist and every murderer was once a child.”
Desmond writes, ‘“Each of us has the capacity to commit the wrong against others that were committed against us. Although I might say, ‘I would never…’ genuine humility will answer, ‘Never say never.’ Rather say, ‘I hope that, given the same set of circumstances, I would not…’ But can we ever really know?”’
I told you the story last week of how Desmond’s father used to beat his mother in his drunken rage. Desmond writes that if he traded lives with his father, if he had experienced the stresses and pressures his father faced, if he had to bear the burdens his father bore, would he have behaved as his father did? Remember Desmond’s father was raising a family in South Africa where the native Africans suffered from oppression and abuse because of the color of their skin.
Desmond’s father has long since died, but Desmond has forgiven him in his heart. Forgiving his father, writes Desmond, has freed him to love his father and to heal emotionally and spiritually.
Desmond writes, – “Ultimately, forgiveness is a choice we make, and the ability to forgive others comes from the recognition that we are all flawed and all human.”
He goes on to write, “To forgive is grace. To forgive is a gift we give to ourselves. To forgive someone for the wrong they have done to you, takes honesty, open-mindedness, and a willingness to try. To forgive another does not depend on them and it is not for them. It is for you.”
“To not forgive leads to bitterness and hatred. Bitterness and hatred, whether projected on others, or stuffed inside of us destroys our human spirit. To not forgive affects our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.”
Psychologist Fred Luskin writes in his book, Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness, “In careful scientific studies, forgiveness training has shown to reduce depression, increase hopefulness, decrease anger, improve spiritual connection and increase emotional self-confidence.”
Research also shows that people who are more forgiving report fewer health and mental problems, and fewer physical symptoms of stress. Medical and psychological studies have shown that a person holding on to anger and resentment is at an increased risk for anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and is more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, ulcers, migraines, backaches, heart attack, and even cancer.
The reverse is also true. Genuine forgiveness, ‘heart forgiveness’ can transform a person who suffers from stress, anxiety, depression and physical illness, to a person healthy, both physically and spiritually.
Forgiveness is not weakness, it requires courage and strength. However, we may have to ask God to give us the courage and the strength.
Remember the Amish school shootings in 2007? In a one room school a gunman stormed in and shot 10 young girls, killing five, then killing himself. Do you think it was easy for those families to forgive the killer? No, it took courage and strength, the strength of God which they prayed for and received. People around the world have been inspired by the way the Amish expressed forgiveness toward the killer and his family.
Jonas Beiler, an Amish man and founder of the Family Resource and Counseling Center, says this about the tragedy, “Tragedy changes you. You can’t stay the same. But I found out in my own experience if you bring what little pieces you have left to God, he somehow helps you make good out of it. And I see that happening in this school shooting.”
“Because the Amish can express forgiveness, and because they hold no grudges, they are better able to concentrate on the work of their own healing.”
Forgiveness may not happen quickly. True ‘Heart Forgiveness’ may take time.
On the front of your bulletin you have a picture of Nelson Mandela who spent twenty-seven years in prison for opposing Apartheid in South Africa. Mandela is quoted as saying, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
Desmond Tutu says of Mandela, “When people say to me what a waste that Mandela spent those years in prison, I say no, it was not a waste. It took twenty-seven years for him to be transformed from an angry, unforgiving young radical into an icon of reconciliation, forgiveness and honor who could go on to lead a country back from the brink of civil war and self-destruction.”
I have read Mandela’s book, Long Walk to Freedom, but I have not watched the movie which came out in 2013. One movie I did watch was Invictus, in which President Nelson Mandela is facing a South Africa racially and economically divided. He is able to unite the whites and the Africans behind the bid for a 1995 World Cup Championship in rugby. I recommend this movie.
Forgiveness does not subvert justice, it creates space for justice to be enacted, yet does not include revenge.
Jesus pardoned the thief on the cross, yet the thief died on the cross, the consequence of his actions. (Luke 23:39-43)
In 2006 the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired a documentary series, Facing the Truth, that brought together victims and perpetrators of Northern Ireland’s violent conflict.
The perpetrators who came forward seeking forgiveness had already been tried, convicted and had completed their prison sentences. They had been punished for their crimes. Forgiveness does not mean the perpetrators do not suffer the consequences of their actions.
Desmond Tutu writes that even when the perpetrators of Apartheid were granted amnesty and immunity from prosecution in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission proceedings, their lives were changed forever with the confessions they made of their cruelty, callousness, and murderous actions. The perpetrators and their families suffered greatly when the truth was told.
Forgiveness is not forgetting, it requires a fearless remembering of hurt. Desmond writes, “Forgiving does not mean forgetting the harm. It does not mean denying the harm. It does not mean pretending the harm did not happened or the injury was not as bad as it really was. Forgiving requires giving voice to the violations and naming the pains we have suffered.”
Personally, I think the removal of statues which represent the civil war and depict America’s dark legacy of slavery, is a mistake. I believe we have to remember the wrongs we’ve done to one another, to prevent them from happening again.
Forgiving is not forgetting. It is moving forward in
commitment to free ourselves from the chains of un-forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not easy. There is a contemporary Christian song titled ‘Forgiveness’ by Matthew West. In it Matthew sings,
“It’s the hardest thing to give away,
And the last thing on your mind today.
It always goes to those who don’t deserve,
It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
Takes everything you have to say the word
It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you’ve got a right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying set it free
It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what its power can do
So let it go and be amazed by what you
See through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you
We have taken our second step in our journey to Heart Forgiveness. We have learned today that true Heart Forgiveness is not a weakness, it doesn’t mean that justice will not be served, it does not mean forgetting, nor is it easy, or quick.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:30-32 “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
The unforgiving servant in the parable we read last week and again today did not forgive another servant’s debt as he had been forgiven his and he was punished. Jesus says to us, “So my heavenly Father will do to everyone of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)
Next week we will continue on our path to ‘Heart Forgiveness’ applying Desmond Tutu’s Fourfold path of forgiving. Telling the Story, Naming the Hurt, Granting Forgiveness, and Renewing or Releasing the Relationship.
You have a prayer insert in your bulletin and some homework to do with the stone you picked up. Each of us has been hurt in the past or will experience hurt in the future. We are learning from The Forgiving Book by Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho Tutu how to break the chains of un-forgiveness that will bind our hearts and souls, and experience true freedom through Heart Forgiveness.
Pastor Rosemary DeHut September 24, 2017
Reference: Tutu, Desmond & Mpho, (2014). The book of forgiving; the fourfold path for healing ourselves and our world. Harper-Collins e-books.
Note: Because this is an e-book, I cannot reference the page numbers of the quotes. All the ideas and some of the illustrations for this sermon series come from this book.
Prayer for our heart
from The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu
God forgives unconditionally
So can we
The thief of the cross still dies on his cross
But forgiveness will set his spirit free
And what of you and me standing on the
ground with our piles of hurts mounting
Will we die a thousand deaths before we die?
Yearning for revenge will we die of that thirst?
Will the rage that fills us be the stake on
which we burn?
Will we stumble over every resistance
placed in the way?
And stay stuck in the misery of it all?
Or will we take the chance that we might
break free by following this path where it leads
Past the whys and lies about how it cannot be
Here is our chance
Take this chance
Tracing the Myths
from The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu
- Take your stone. Set it on a sheet of paper in your journal and trace around it, making five tracings of your stone.
- Inside each tracing write one thing that forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not:
- For each of these myths about forgiveness, call to mind an instance where that myth is holding you back from granting forgiveness
- Think of the things you must give up or let go of in order to forgive, and write them in your journal.
- Your list might include things like the right to revenge or the expectation of an apology. It might even include having to give up an expectation that the person who hurt you will understand the pain they have caused.
- As you jot down this list, pause with each item and offer thanks for the ability to let go of what you do not need in order to forgive.
September 26th, 2017
Heart Forgiveness September 17, 2017
September 18th, 2017
Romans 14:7-12 and Matthew 18:21-35
(Quoted scripture is New Revised Standard Version)
A story is told of two friends who were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand, “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.”
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from nearly drowning, he wrote on a stone, “Today my best friend saved my life.”
His friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?” The other friend replied “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”
In our passage from Matthew, the Apostle Peter asked the question that many people would like to ask, but sometimes are too ashamed to ask. Matthew 18:21, “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?”
Seven times forgiving seemed very generous to him because the going rate in that day was three times. According to the Talmud and Rabbinic law, you were obligated to forgive someone three times. But after the third time you could beat the plowshare into a sword and run your opponent through. You were no longer obligated to forgive. In other words, “it was three strikes and you’re out.”
Peter thinks he is being very generous. He doubles the number of times the law demanded, and then added one free pass as a bonus. After all, any Jew knew that the number seven denoted perfection. Peter thought he had arrived at the perfect answer. You had to forgive a brother seven times, and after that the gloves came off.
Jesus’ answer surprises Peter, “Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” (v. 22) The King James Version of Jesus’ words for this verse records “-I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
I prefer the KJV version, because it gives us a more infinite number. Seventy-seven times is not four hundred and ninety times that the seventy times seven would be.
Why did Jesus say this about forgiveness? Peter was appealing to the law, but Jesus was appealing to love.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the law it has everything to do with love. The law has limits, love does not. The law keeps count, love does not. The law keeps records, love does not. The law has a long memory, love has no memory.
I am reading a book by Bishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho Tutu, titled The Book of Forgiving. I chose to read this book because I encounter people who are living with heart and soul pain, because they have not forgiven a person or people who have hurt them, physically and/or emotionally. This heart and soul pain effects their emotional health as well as their physical heath.
African Bishop Desmond Tutu is a retired Anglican clergyman who was instrumental is setting up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the final defeat of apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid was the policy in South Africa beginning in 1948 which resulted in the segregation and oppression of the native Africans by the whites. Disregard for human worth, because of the color of one’s skin, resulted in abuses which I cannot repeat. Apartheid didn’t officially end until 1994 when a new constitution was ratified. Bishop Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was one of the most stunning events in history. People who had family members tortured and murdered by white police confronted the officers who had committed these crimes and publicly forgave them.
The reason Desmond Tutu could be so effective in this role is that he himself had to deal with a very personal battle of forgiving someone who had harmed someone he loved.
In this book Tutu tells how as a young boy, he had to watch helplessly as his father verbally and physically abused his mother. He says that he can still recall the smell of alcohol coming from his father’s lips, he can still see the fear in his mother’s eyes, he can still feel the hopeless despair that comes when we see people we love hurting each other in incomprehensible ways.
He writes, “If I dwell in those memories, I can feel myself wanting to hurt my father back, in the same ways he hurt my mother and in ways of which I was incapable of understanding as a small boy. I see my mother’s face and I see this gentle human being whom I loved so very much and who did nothing to deserve the pain inflicted upon her. When I recall this story, I realize how difficult the process of forgiving truly is. Intellectually, I know my father caused pain because he was in pain. Spiritually, I know my faith tells me my father deserves to be forgiven as God forgives us all. But it is still difficult. The traumas we have witnessed or experienced live on in our memories. Even years later they can cause us fresh pain each time we recall them.”
As we go through the next few weeks, The Forgiving Book by Desmond Tutu is going to inspire forgiveness in us that will affect our life. Instead of just saying, ‘I forgive the person who has hurt me,’ we will experience true ‘Heart Forgiveness.’
Desmond writes, “Forgiveness is nothing less than the way we heal the world. We heal the world by healing each and every one of our hearts. The process is simple, but it is not easy.”
Through these next weeks we are going to walk Desmond’s Fourfold path of forgiving: Telling the story, Naming the Hurt, Granting Forgiveness, and Renewing or Releasing the Relationship.
You have a prayer insert in your bulletin. I encourage you to begin praying this prayer everyday as we begin our path of forgiving. Each one of us has people in our past and there will be people in our future, who will hurt us and who will need forgiving if we are to be healthy in our heart and our soul.
I encourage you to get a notebook specifically for this series. There will be steps along our path of forgiving which you will be asked to record in your notebook. This notebook is for your eyes only; to record your thoughts, emotions, ideas, and progress along our forgiving path.
As I read this book, it is revealed to me that people who have hurt me as a child, youth or adult, I have not really forgiven. I said the words, ‘I forgive them,’ and yet when I hear of my abuser experiencing misfortune, my immediate reaction is not one of compassion, but one of ‘he’s getting what he deserved for hurting me.’ Is there anyone here who can relate to that? Please, be honest with yourself.
Those of you in worship today have been given a stone. The people who are reading this at home or on the church website, please find a palm size stone; small enough to carry in your hand, yet with a weight and size you won’t easily lose. One day this week for a six-hour time period hold the stone in your non-dominant hand. Do not set the stone down for any reason during the six hours. On the back of your prayer insert there are questions for you to answer in your journal.
Desmond Tutu writes in his book, “There is nothing that cannot be forgiven, and there is no one undeserving of forgiveness.”
We pray in the prayer we say every Sunday, “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do we mean what we pray?
Jesus’ words at the end of the parable we read in Matthew about the unforgiving servant who was handed over to be punished when he did not forgive the debt owed to him were, “So my heavenly Father will do to everyone of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)
In our passage from Romans 14 we read verses 10-12, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. For it is written “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God. So then, each of us will be accountable to God.”
We begin our journey on our path to Heart Forgiveness.
Pastor Rosemary DeHut September 17, 2017
Reference: Tutu, Desmond & Mpho, (2014). The book of
Forgiving: The fourfold path for healing
ourselves and our world. Harper-Collins e-
Prayer Before the Prayer
The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu
I want to be willing to forgive
But I dare not ask for the will to forgive
In case you give it to me, and I am not yet ready
I am not yet ready for my heart to soften
I am not yet ready to be vulnerable again
Not yet ready to see that there is humanity
in my tormentor’s eyes
Or that the one who hurt me may also
I am not yet ready for the journey
I am not yet interested in the path
I am at the prayer before the prayer of
Grant me the will to want to forgive
Grant it to me not yet but soon
Can I even form the words
Dare I even look?
Do I dare to see the hurt I have caused?
I can glimpse all the shattered pieces of
that fragile thing
That soul trying to rise on the broken
wings of hope
But only out of the corner of my eye
I am afraid of it
And if I am afraid to see
How can I not be afraid to say
Is there a place where we can meet?
You and me
The place in the middle
The no man’s land
Where we straddle the lines
Where you are right
And I am right too
And both of us are wrong and wronged
Can we meet there?
And look for the place where the path begins
The path that ends when we forgive
Carrying the Stone
The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu
Questions to answer after you have carried your stone
- What did you notice about carrying the stone?
- When did you notice it the most?
- Did it hinder any of your activities?
- Was it ever useful?
- In what ways was carrying the stone like carrying an unforgiven hurt?
- Make a list of people you need to forgive in your life.
- Make another list of all those you would like to have forgive you.
September 18th, 2017
Tough Love September 10, 2017
September 11th, 2017
Romans 13:8-14 and Matthew 18:15-20
(Quoted scripture is New International Version)
In the comic strip, Andy Capp, the principal character is a chronically unemployed Englishman who spends most of his days playing soccer and most of his nights at the corner pub, both of which drive his long-suffering wife, Flo, up the wall. In one episode, Andy is pacing the floor while Flo stands with her arms crossed.
Finally, she breaks the silence: “Three whole days without speaking. This is ridiculous.” In the next frame she says to Andy, “I’m sorry I acted the way I did . . . you were right. Friends?”
A bit confused, Andy says, “OK, friends.” Flo hugs him and gives him a kiss on the cheek. As Andy leaves the house, he meets one of his soccer buddies, who says, “I’eard that, Andy. It takes a good woman to apologize when she is in the wrong.”
As they walk down the street, Andy reflects on his friend Chalkie’s remark and replies, “It takes a better one to apologize when she’s not.”
Sometimes this is the best way to solve relationship issues; to say you’re wrong and to ask forgiveness, even when it has not been you fault. Is it worth the anxiety, and sleepless nights to insist you’re right, even if you are right; or is it better to recognize that your pride is getting in the way of reconciliation and restoration of a relationship.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13:8-10, ‘Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.’
Sometimes the most wonderful way we can love, is to ask forgiveness for something the other person thinks we’ve done, even if we know we have not. We all look at things from a different perspective.
Remember the example of the minister, the archaeologist, and the cowboy getting their first look at the Grand Canyon. The minister exclaimed, “Truly this is one of the glories of God!” The archaeologist commented, “What a wonder of nature this is!” And the cowboy said, “Can you imagine trying to find a lost steer in there?”
People look at life from different perspectives. People are in any moment in time, the sum of all their life experiences, and we see things from our personal point of view.
Reinhold Niebuhr, was an American theologian, commentator on politics, and public affairs and professor at Union Theological Seminary. In his book The Irony of American History, he writes, “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime: therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone, therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.”
Sometimes it takes asking forgiveness from the one who has offended us, even if we’ve done nothing to them. This is the hardest thing to do, but it is the purest form of love.
Jesus said as he hung on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Remember Paul wrote at the end of this passage in Romans, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ–” (Romans 13:14a)
If you are having relationship struggles with family members or friends or co-workers, is it worth the anxiety your experiencing to hang on to your pride? Clothe yourself with Jesus Christ, swallow your pride and work toward restoration. Be the example of love.
If you see someone who is a friend, especially a church member sinning, it is also pure love to help them. A woman tells of praying for a friend whom she knew had become involved in an extra-marital affair. One Sunday she happened to be sitting behind her friend in church. During the prelude, she leaned forward and put her hands lovingly on her friend’s shoulders and whispered, “Be careful that you don’t throw away something very beautiful. I’m praying for you.”
The friend involved in the affair began weeping softly and almost immediately broke off this extra-marital affair. Years later this woman attended a high school graduation. One of the young people graduating was the son of the woman who had been having the affair. This woman came up to the woman who had confronted her and gave her a big hug. “You were so right,” she said with gratitude. “If you had not spoken those words to me that day, I would have thrown away nearly everything that was important to me. Thank you so much.”
Jesus is the example of pure love, and he was also the example of tough love.
In Matthew 21, Jesus enters the temple in Jerusalem and throws out all who were buying and selling there, saying, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’ (v. 13).
In John 3, when the Pharisee Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the dark of the night, Jesus practices tough love when he tells Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, not one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (v.3) “Everyone must be born of the Spirit.” (v.8b) In other words, you can follow God’s laws exactly and still not enter the kingdom of heaven, until you ask for and receive the Holy Spirit’s power, by confessing with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Only then can you be saved and enter the kingdom of God. (Romans 10:9)
Jesus is not only the example of pure love, and tough love, he teaches us in this Matthew 18 passage how to be examples of both to one another.
- 15, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”
Gossiping about what others have done wrong and not confronting them one on one, is not love; and ignoring it will not make it go away. One on one, face to face conversation using words spoken in love, not condemnation, is real love. For those of us who do not like conflict, and do everything in our power to maintain the peace, even this confrontation done with love may be difficult.
Then Jesus advises a little tougher love, “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ (v.16)
If he refuses to listen to them, Jesus says, then it’s time for real tough love. “—tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (v. 17)
As I was reading and praying about this passage, it came to mind, how did Jesus treat the pagans-the gentiles, and the tax collectors? Zacchaeus was a tax collector, whom Jesus called to come down from a tree and with whom Jesus went home to dine. Zacchaeus’ reaction to Jesus’ love resulted in this chief tax collector saying, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (v. 8) (Luke 19:1-10) Love may convict the heart and help love for God and love for neighbor to grow within that heart.
The Apostle Paul was commissioned by Jesus to take God’s love to the pagans-the gentiles, you and me. In Acts 9:15, after Saul was blinded by Jesus on the road to Damascus, the Lord said to a believer named Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.” He was speaking of Saul the persecutor of the Jesus’ followers who would become Paul the missionary to the gentiles, the pagans.
How did Jesus treat the tax collectors and the pagans? He loved them. We are called to do the same. We are not to condone sin, and we may come to a place in our relationships where we have to agree to disagree and maybe even part ways. However, we must always choose love to handle relationship conflicts.
One last point to make on this passage from Matthew 18. In verse 20, Jesus tells us, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
We are not meant to practice pure love or tough love on our own. Jesus wants to be here, in the midst of our lives, in good times and in bad. If Jesus is the main focus of our life, and we strive to ‘clothe ourselves with Jesus’, everything we do, every relationship we enter into must be for the glory of God. Remember, when you don’t know what to say, ‘Just say Jesus.’ You and I are not meant to walk this earthly journey on our own. God came to us in Jesus to tell us of God’s love and to show us how to love God and one another.
Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in their 40 years of working together. It began with a small misunderstanding, and grew into a major difference, and finally exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence. One morning, there was a knock on brother John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days’ work,” the man said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there that I could help with?
Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my younger brother! Last week, there was a meadow between us, but he took his bulldozer and dug a small river between us. Well, I’m going to do him one better. See that pile of old lumber? I want you to build an eight-foot high fence between us. Then I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.” The carpenter said, “Show me the nails and the tools, and I’ll do a good job for you.”
The older brother had to go to town, so he left for the day. At sunset, when he returned, his eyes opened wide, and his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. The carpenter had built a bridge that stretched from one side of the river to the other, with handrails and all! And his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched. “You’re quite the guy,” he said, “after all I’ve said and done.” The two brothers met in the middle, and shook each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter leaving. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother. “I’d love to,” the carpenter said, “but I have many more bridges to build.”
Jesus wants to be in the midst of our earthly journey.
When you and I come to the end of our days, God won’t ask how many fences we made, but He will ask how many bridges we built. He will not accuse us of loving too much, but He may judge us for loving too little.
Sometimes it’s pure love, sometimes it’s tough love, however if we want to bring honor and glory to God, it is always love.
God showed us His love when he came to live among us in Jesus. Jesus taught us about love, and showed us how to love one another. May we go forth today clothed in Jesus, to love one another
Pastor Rosemary DeHut September 10, 2017
September 11th, 2017
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Phone Number: 906-932-3900
Pastor: Rev. Rosemary DeHut
Pastor Rosemary is in the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays
~~ For the renewal of the church Spirit of promise, Spirit of unity, We thank you that you are also a Spirit of renewal. Renew in the whole Church That passionate desire for the coming of your kingdom Which will unite all Christians in one mission to the world. May we all grow up together into him who is our head, The Savior of the world. Amen. ~~