Pastor Dan Nichols
The Bible’s vision for the local church, and specifically for Redeemer Church, is to become a people who put the beauty of God and his kingdom on display through a love for Jesus, a love for his people, and a love for one’s neighbor
And as it pertains to that second calling, to have a love what Hebrews calls “the house of God”, there is this phrase that you will find repeated throughout the New Testament: “one another.” Over and again, “love one another…honor one another…live in harmony with one another” and so on.
And all of these “one-another’s” are bi-products of Christ and his resurrection. Jesus rose from the grave bodily and that resurrection power dwells within men and women of faith. So that Christians love one another as a result of Christ having first loved us. We honor one another as a result of Christ having first honored us. We live in harmony with one another because Christ has made peace with his people.
The problem is that many of these one-another’s feel a bit distant from our present reality. They can feel disconnected from what your present experience with church is actually like.
Take, for example, the encouragement to forgive one another. Colossians 3:13 says to, “bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” I think that most of us feel a genuine willingness to forgive, if the occasion were to arise. We know that doing so is proper. we know what Jesus has made forgiveness available to us so that we also desire to do so.
But this is where I feel the disconnect. How often does this actually happen? To ask it a different way, when was the last time you were put in a position of having to confess and seek forgiveness from someone within the community. If you are like me, person-to-person forgiveness and reconciliation is not a common occurrence.
Why is that? So many reasons, but the one I want to land on is distance. Not physical separation or lack of proximity, though that can contribute. But more so distancing in the same way that waste facilities are kept outside of town. Because we would prefer to not know that they exist, and if we are aware of them we definitely do not want to smell their odor.
See, there exist aspects of our lives that we make sure to keep distance from others. You and I are skilled at exposing the fragrant aspects of our lives to those around us. And we are similarly skilled at keeping the smelly, unholy parts of our lives away from everyone else.
If seeking forgiveness is not a common experience in your life, it is not because you are more holy. It is likely because you are not close enough to offend anyone in such a way that requires reconciliation. Your sin and your clumsy growth in becoming like Jesus must be brought into the orbit of others in order for you to have something for which you must apologize.
And so my encouragement for you is to pursue the kind of relationship within the community that requires forgiveness; to have the kind of immediate, tightly-bound, border-less relationships that often result in hurt and put you in a position where you will have to admit wrongdoing and seek forgiveness