After blogging about the effect of the church on my life, it seems to follow that the next subject should be forgiveness. Love and forgiveness tend to be the two major themes Christians will preach . As a minister I would often challenge my congregations by stating that sometime the church is actually the most unforgiving environment. I grew up with historic stories about people who had committed all sorts of crimes, been forgiven and achieved some form of greatness. However, within the church those who had let the church down in some way were banished. Forgiveness certainly seemed to be in short supply among the majority of Christians. Very few know the reasons why I left the church, but most have abandoned own friendship. I can only suppose that this is because I committed the greatest sin of all: leaving their church.
It poses the question, ‘Why are so many Christians unforgiving?’ I have reflected on this and in my opinion it is because so many are cradle Christians, e.g. Brought up as regular church goers. This means that they have lived their lives in a good or even godly fashion as decreed by their church. This also means that they believe that their actions are always right or righteous and while they may admit to making mistakes they certainly don’t do anything wrong or sinful to use the language of the church. Having lived such moral lives, these people have no need of personal forgiveness. They will talk about forgiveness but have no concept on how to forgive others. In fact, they will often bear a grudge against the so-called sinner.
I, like many other ministers, was asked whether I could forgive a hardened criminal. My stock answer would always be ‘it depends on whether they want to be forgiven.’ To forgive someone is all about your own response and feelings to them, as far as the other person is concern it makes no real difference to them. It is about my attitude towards them of which they may be totally oblivious to.
I was once asked if I could forgive Sandra for all she did to me. I have to move on with my life and waiting for her to ask for forgiveness would only hold me back. I won’t forgive Sandra but I feel it doesn’t matter anymore whether I do or don’t forgive. Forgiveness would only matter if there was reconciliation or continuance in the relationship.
I am completely devoid of any emotion. Even today, Sandra has never offered any form of apology nor accepted any responsibility for her actions. I can’t forgive and will never forgive. For me forgiveness is unimportant now. For years I made excuses and I guess because I stayed, I forgave her. It served no purpose. It never improved the situation. The only thing I want is some form of admission of the abuse that took place.