Thursday, December 15, 2005

Another Look at Forgiveness and Reconciliation

The following is a link to an interview with David Augsberger, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. It chimes with what I posted earlier about apologies and relationships between Christians. It also has much to say about forgiveness and when such forgiveness is appropriate. Being willing to forgive is just as important as being willing to apologize. I don't necessarily agree with all his conditions for forgiveness. For instance, Professor Augsberger thinks that one should not ask for forgiveness, likening it to a type of blackmail. I have to render a qualified disagreement. If the request is indeed for evil motives, that is one thing. But in general, I see no harm in asking someone for forgiveness if you have wronged them. Perhaps the request (if the offense was especially egregious) could be "I hope and pray you will be able to forgive me in time" or something like that as some wounds do take time to heal. But forgiveness is not optional. If someone continues to hold a grudge, then that will eventually need to be rebuked.

I am increasingly amazed at the number of broken or damaged relationships among Christians that I have encountered lately. This really seems to be a festering sore/issue with loads of implications for our effective witness as Christians. I am seeing it especially in abusive church situations where leaders are ruling over their flocks in an oppressive, confrontational, domineering way — which is unbiblical. May God in His mercy help us to love one another as we ought.

Here is the link:


crownring said...

Well said, Sola. :)

SolaMeanie said...

Hi, Crownring!

The guy's article is pretty good for the most part. I think sometimes the churches have gotten so much into the psychobabble aspect of relationships that Scripture gets pushed aside. I know you've had believers hurt you pretty deeply and it's a widespread problem. Whatever happened to the love of Christ that we are to display?

crownring said...

To quote an old Fifth Demension song from the 70s........

Where is the love
you said was mine all mine
'til the end of time
was it just a line?

Where is the love.....?

Love? I really don't think a lot of people really understand what love is, Sola. Too many of the people I know seem to think love is based on mere emotion (even Christians) and when the good feelings take a vacation, any commitment they may have made to another person goes out the window. I've read that the divorce rate in the church is just as high as that of the secular world, so what does that tell us? About the only time most Christians hear 1st Corinthians 13 being quoted in the pulpit is during wedding ceremonies and then you've got to know hardly anyone is listening for anything except the "I will/do".

As for forgiveness, as crass and selfish as it may sound, that's something I do for my own sake, Sola. Hanging onto bitterness and anger essentially gives the offender the power to rule over my life in a way to which he/she is not entitled and it also steals my freedom to be the person God wants me to be. As I am someone who values my freedom more than my life, unforgiveness is a milestone around my neck that keeps me from being where I want to be...flying high with the eagles of faith. :) Jesus taught this when he said we should forgive our brother 70x7 times. To put it as simply as possible, forgiveness is freedom and unforgiveness is a form of self-enslavement. Not that I'm anywhere as good at forgiving as I wish, Sola, and I think there are some crimes that offend so badly that forgiveness is impossible without God's intervention in our lives.

SolaMeanie said...

That's a good word indeed. Bitterness, hate, anger etc. seldom hurts the one with whom we are upset. Frequently, they don't even care. But the Lord will deal with the hardened heart in His good time. And believe me, some of the ways He chooses to deal with it aren't pleasant.