Forgive the Church

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When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, “I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,” we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness. It is important to think about the Church not as “over there” but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer.
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The Wounded Healer
Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not “How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.Jesus is God’s wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus’ suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.
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How many times in our lives do we find ourselves in life situations where all the things that had been good seem to turn into something bad?  Just when we think that things can only get better we find ourselves one hundred and eighty degrees out of phase and the bottom drops out?

Probably many times, but we don’t recognize it when it happens. It looks to us like a normal happenstance and we accept it as such.

The story in 1 Kings 17, 1-7 dramatizes this situation. We find Elijah hiding from King Ahab at Brook Cherith.  The Ravens have been instructed by God to bring him bread and meat morning and night and he has the clean waters of the brook to drink. He is all set. King Ahab has no idea where he is and Elijah undoubtedly feels like he can continue in this wonderful environment for ever.

Verse 7 brings all this to an unexpected end. “The brook ran dry”. The lack of water forces Elijah to abandon his sanctuary and move on to another location, Zarephath of Sidon.

Perhaps we find ourselves in a job that appears to be all that we had been looking for. It is new and fresh and exciting and we can only expect that it will continue indefinitely. But, after a season, out of the blue the unexpected happens. Some major portion of the job runs dry. Without it we are forced to leave, to find another place where we can continue our dream.

Perhaps it is a budding relationship. We were filled with wonder that another human being could look on us with love. We are stirred to do everything we can think of to enhance the relationship. It becomes our focus, our reason for living to return the love and stability offered by the other person. When we least expect anything to change, it does. The brook runs dry. Something major rises to the surface and after multiple attempts to reinvigorate that relationship we finally accept the fact and move on.

Another way to look at this is to recognize that God does use the brooks of our lives running dry to move us out of our tendency to languish in a place that He wants us to leave. We would never leave if things had continued to be wonderful. It takes the loss of something important to move us on.

In a sense, it is a very good sign that He has other things for us to learn and experience. He wants us to glean what we can and once we have completed that task He finds a way to cause us to let go and move on to the next thing He has for us.

Life is filled with seasons. The seasons come and go.

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