If I was with you right now and asked you, “What is the greatest need in the church today?” What would be your answer? Please give that a few moments of thought.
I have been a part of church all of my life. I have served in church as long as I can remember. I would not trade my life for any other life, I love God’s church. Today I am honored to serve an amazing network and fellowship of pastors.
So let me share what I feel is the greatest need in the church today. It comes from the Apostle Paul as he writes to the Colossian believers. In Colossians chapter three, after Paul had told them of his love for them, the hope of glory that was in them through Christ and challenged them to, “Set your minds on things above . . . and put to death the works of the flesh . . .” Then he writes:
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:12-14 NKJV).
The Passion Bible presents the same verses like this,
“You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity”
Please allow the words of the Apostle to seep deep into you for just a few moment.
“The elect of God.” “Dearly loved by God” “Robe yourself with the virtues of God” “Since you have been divinely chosen to be holy.” You were not chosen to be famous, a big name, rich or poor, you were chosen to be “holy.” Then he says,
“Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others.”
How many times have you felt, offended? Had a complaint against another brother or sister in the Lord? Whatever part of the Body of Christ that the Holy Spirit has placed you, you can be sure that “offenses” will come. That is a fact and perhaps why Paul is addressing this and telling us the Christ way to respond.
So, here is the greatest need in the church today: Reckless Forgiveness!
“Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them.”
“Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
In all my years of ministry, especially the years that I have been in a stewardship place serving pastors and leaders, the greatest heartache has been when, conditional forgiveness, ruled. When “forgiveness” was simply some empty word that was thrown out like, “I have forgiven them, but . . .” If this has broken my heart the many times when I have been dragged into some conflict between God’s people, I can only imagine how our, conditional forgiveness, must break the heart of Jesus Christ who forgave us and buried all our sins under His blood.
Paul clearly describes the depth of what true forgiveness is for an offend-able act in the “family of faith”, “forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ.”
Prayer: Dear Father, I pray for anyone who reads this, that we will come to a new level of forgiveness toward those in the family of faith. That we will forgive one another in the same way that we have been forgiven by you. In that way the “hope of glory” will shine through us to this world.