Friday 04 November 2022

Bible Book:

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.' (vs 21-22)

Matthew 18:15-35 Friday 4 November 2022

Psalm 100


Today's reading concerns the nature of forgiveness. It would seem that the opening teaching of this passage and the ending teaching are completely at odds with each other. How then can we read them alongside each other with confidence in our ability to apply them both to our own lives? As a member of the clergy, I have seen firsthand the ways that mistreatment in the Church results in a loss of faith. While I have never personally seen anyone removed or was party to having someone removed from the Church, I have heard stories of it happening in other denominations than my own, which is United Methodist.

 In the parable about the unforgiving servant and the unforgiving master (vs 23-35) we get a glimpse of how people outside the Church may form an opinion of what Christians are all about, namely conflict. Now bear with me, for I have a different viewpoint of the Church than a lay person because ministry is my profession as well as the way I engage with my faith. I have witnessed people hurt by the Church, and I myself have been hurt by the Church.  

However, I do not blame or fault the God I serve, but I have done so with the people who share the Church with me and whom I have served. This parable brings to light the power dynamic among God’s people, which is sadly sometimes abused for personal gain within a congregation. Such acts are painful to witness when they go against our beliefs.  

We should read this parable not as a blueprint for Christian conflict resolution, but as an opportunity for acting with grace and humility towards those who sin as we do, and therefore deserve forgiveness and grace. Recognising how God deals with those who hold grudges against others may be a good jumping-off point for a conversation about forgiveness.


To Ponder:

  • What 'wounds' might you still carry from a bad experience within the Church or among Christians?
  • Can you point to a connection between your current faith journey and something in your past involving the Church?
  •  What hopes might you hold for a better future if Christians can respond when faith is needed in order to create change? 


Jesus our Saviour, forgive us for getting in the way of forgiveness or grace in the lives of people we encounter. For those hurt by the Church or by its members, we offer a prayer of peace.

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