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Forgiveness for Reconciliation (43)
Christopher B. Harbin
Communication seems like it should be a simple thing, but it is indeed one of the most difficult challenges we face. We hear what we expect to hear another person say. We interpret another's words in light of what we have heard, seen, and understood in the past. We project our own issues, interests, and concerns into what others have to say, and in the process, we fail to understand what the other person is really saying. We expect politicians to spin their words in avoidance of the truth. What we fail to grasp is that we spin what we hear, just as they spin what they say. Learning to hear what another actually says is important, but we are often too consumed with our own issues to hear others.
Along those lines, reading the gospels could so often be titled, ''Adventures in Missing the Point.'' Peter seems to be the appointed spokesman among the disciples to play the fool before Jesus. It seems he lived his life with one foot in his mouth. He simply put into words what all of the twelve were thinking, but in the process he becomes the easiest one to critique for misunderstanding Jesus. The problem is that we continue to misconstrue what Jesus said or otherwise simply ignore what he taught.
Traditionally many evangelicals have turned to Matthew chapter 18 as a reference guide or manual for church discipline. Many actually use the phrase Matthew 18 as a reference to the discipline of those members who have fallen short of a church's standards for membership. The problem is that this emphasis on discipline misses the themes of the context and distorts what Jesus was actually trying to teach the disciples. Jesus was not focused on disciplining wayward members. He was focused on teaching about God's great desire to reconcile all people as one.
While Jesus did not ignore sin as an issue to be addressed, he did not make sin nearly as great an issue as our tradi ...
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