Salah, kapar and nasa are the three most common Hebrew words which express the English expression to forgive. In the New Testament, aphiemi describes the act of forgiving, to separate blame from the guilty party inspired by sin. Biblical forgiveness is achieved when an individual acquits, exonerates or pardons someone from an act which cause harm to one or more parties. Unfortunately, for most churches, forgiving without truly forgetting results in a losing spiritual battle.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you, Colossians 3:13.
This reality hit home as a drove to the first church I served in as a youth pastor. Every Sunday I passed by a former congregation, a beautiful brick building which had become a liquor store. Ironic that a building once known as the Lord’s house was now a center for wines and spirits in my community. Perhaps, a spirit of bitterness, jealousy or resentment is at fault. A couple may not like the music, others profess their disdain for the preaching and some complain about the lame programing that exists. Before long, seeds of discord, dissension and factions cause membership to dwindle. In the end, churches die as the lukewarm hop over to another destination, going along for the ride until their own passion fades away.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, 2 Timothy 4:7.
As a former elder of a now disbanded church, I hate to see the finality of it all. Shattered dreams, broken homes and fragile souls try to move on, placing their pain on hold until the healing begins. While fighting for a lost cause may seem futile, churches can be turned around when forgiveness arrives on the scene. If only egos could be put on the sidelines, then the love of Jesus can permeate into the lives of churches. Casting Crowns was right, “If we are the body, what aren’t our hands reaching out in love?” May this blog create a spark, ignite forgiveness and rejuvenate churches on the verge of division or splitting. Fight the good fight of faith!
by Jay Mankus