Christians who do not forgive other Christians are not Christian

This is another edited repost and is the 2nd in a 3-part note, following yesterday’s post on bitterness.



At first the title sounds a little self contradictory. That’s a little like forgiveness. It contradicts our default self. Especially when the person we could forgive is another Christian.  So often in Churches today, people are harbouring hostility towards each other for the most trivial things. Unrealistic expectations and unreasonable demands turn into spiteful hatred. Instead of showing patience and compassion to someone having trouble, the default mode is to treat that as an inconvenience and then punish them for upsetting your default mode of selfish existence.

The familiar words of Jesus … “by this shall all men know” contradict our default mode of selfishness. Self interest takes precedence and our priorities must be preeminent. Someone gets in our way, slows us down, interrupts us or doesn’t act towards or respond to us in the way we want them to (i.e the way we think we are entitled to be treated) we insist on our rights & entitlements. We may not say it exactly, but the attitude is, “I demand you listen to me”, “You have no right to offend me”, etc.

When instructing Timothy, Paul said:

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
1 Tim 1:5-12

The Christian gospel message has a consequence of faith that produces love, else our faith (that we pretend to have) is not “sincere”.  As John said:

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:4

This fills out the gospel. It is not limited to Jesus’ death for my sins & forgiveness. It is also about being introduced to a community through which I demonstrate that forgiveness towards others. The gospel emulates Christ’s incarnation. He became flesh, dwelt among us and revealed God to us through his life and obedience to God’s will. As the Father sent Christ, he on-sends us: The call of Christ is to “wear” (i.e. incarnate) the gospel as an act of service in and for Christ to extend his kingdom.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:12

A lack of forgiveness results in bitterness and is indicative of spiritual death, disbelief & disobedience. Christians who do not forgive each other are not Christian at all.

Be a heretic and get past your fear

2769082212_296237de08Currently listening to Seth Godin’s ‘Tribes‘ on Audible and this quote hit me:

Dr. Laurence Peter is famous for proposing that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” In other words, when you do a great job, you get promoted. And that process repeats itself until finally you end up in a job you can’t handle.

I’d like to paraphrase the Peter Principle. I think what actually happens is that “in every organization everyone rises to the level at which they become paralyzed with fear.”

The essence of leadership is being aware of your fear (and seeing it in the people you wish to lead). No, it won’t go away, but awareness is the key to making progress.

He goes and says fear of failure is overrated! “What people are afraid of isn’t failure. It’s blame. Criticism. … Fear of criticism is a powerful deterrent because the criticism doesn’t actually have to occur for the fear to set in.” After hearing or seeing others be criticised you hesitate and play it safe and escape the death that comes with criticism for coming up with something somebody didn’t like.

While Godin is talking leadership, I think there’s great insight to why Christians don’t seek to proselytize and do more evangelism. Oh sure, you may not be as successful as Billy Graham. But that’s not the real de-motivator. Will you be criticised for believing and saying something that somebody thinks is stupid / dumb / (fill in your own adjective here)?

Godin calls those who get past the fear of criticism, “heretics“. He defines them as “engaged, passionate, and more powerful and happier than anyone else.” They reach out to others and put their ideas on the line – they pin their 95 theses to the Church door.

Godin’s heretic has weighed up the cost of criticism versus the benefit to themselves and others of the idea they want to promote and decided that the criticism is worth it.

This seems to be what happens in the Gospels as the disciples listen to and watch Jesus. When Jesus explains that following him will invite ridicule, criticism and persecution they have to count the cost. In the Book of Acts the early Church figures this out and they decide the cost is worth it. In the eyes of first century Judaism and Rome they become heretics. Stephen is stoned to death, James is beheaded, Peter is imprisoned, and Polycarp (AD 130) is burnt at the stake. For 2000 years the blood of these martyred “heretics” has fueled the Church.

Will you count the cost of being a heretic to get past your fear of being criticised for sharing the gospel?

An Embarrassment of Riches

How do we know that the New Testament has been reliably transmitted from the first century down to today? I lead a short seminar for HSC and Uni students today discussing this question in relation to the historicity of Jesus Christ. Some of the data, facts and figures on this topic are summarised in the below video by Dan Wallace.

Dan Wallace is Professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary and a highly regarded scholar on ancient manuscripts.

Have you read the New Testament recently? Here’s a good place to start.

What is the gospel?

It’s good news and if you have just 4 minutes, this video will tell you exactly what it is.


HT: St Ebbe’s