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.