During worship each week we offer prayers of praise or adoration and confession. At the end of these prayers the declaration of forgiveness is given. Forgiveness is but one of the reasons that Jesus came to earth, to show us the love of God and bless us with the forgiveness of sins.
When we say the Lord’s Prayer we ask forgiveness of our sins as we would forgive others. Today’s reading tells us the process of forgiving others and how we handle conflict and broken relationships.
Conflict resolution is a skill and a gift, and one that we all could use in our everyday lives. The words of Jesus in our reading today outline a process of conflict resolution where the conflict is between individuals. For Jesus, it is all about repairing the relationship between those in conflict – and this is the hope of this passage.
If we think about it, the process that Jesus outlines is logical and at times very simple. Our egos can get in the way of that process. We don’t like to admit we’ve been wrong, what if the other person doesn’t accept or receive the move we make to restore the relationship, all sorts of thoughts and second guessing can happen.
I have to admit that I hate confronting any sort of conflict not matter how small. I’d rather run in the opposite direction and just try to ignore it. But Jesus shows us that that is not the way. He even gives us steps to follow up on if things cannot be resolved.
These steps and instructions, or guidelines, are great but what speaks to me the most is in the conversation and questions that Peter puts to Jesus. How many times is it acceptable to be hurt, how many times do we forgive someone who has wronged us in one way or another?
Although the number seven is mentioned and multiplied in this reading I think we are being told as many times as is needed. The parable that Jesus tells puts the story into extremes but we need to see and hear extremes to help us confirm what is right and proper.
I can’t help but return to the Lord’s Prayer where the example of forgiveness for our sins from God is based on how we forgive others. Forgiveness is important, cleansing and relationship restoring.
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