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After God's Character
Christopher B. Harbin
Along the course of religious history, we have often been preoccupied with rules and regulations. We have focused on doing the right things, avoiding the wrong things, showing up at church, and paying some kind of penance when we fail to measure up to the established standards of behavior. What we often miss is that God is not so interested in rules and regulations. God is more interested in the development of our character and our fulfilling the purposes God has established for our lives.
We looked at the first portion of Matthew 18 from the perspective of forgiveness and reconciliation, but as we look at the next section of the chapter, we find the reason that forgiveness and reconciliation are so important for us as a people of faith. They are important because of who God is. It is in God's identity, character, and priorities that we find what our own priorities should be.
As Jesus spoke of forgiveness and reconciliation, Peter asked how often we should freely forgive those who sin against us. While Jesus allowed for no limits on forgiveness, we still struggle with that concept. Our criminal justice system does not like to allow room for forgiveness and finding ways to restore people to society. As believers, we have generally not supported efforts aimed at integrating people who have committed crimes back into society. We might be willing to forgive our children all sorts of failures, but we have not learned to extend that same grace beyond our immediate circles of community. We generally allow our political leanings to trump what Christ has taught us in regard to the power and importance of grace, restorative justice, mercy, compassion, and continuing to forgive.
In many ways, it is because we have learned somehow to disconnect faith and Jesus' teachings from our public, political, social, and business lives. In so doing we miss the basics of what Jesus taught an ...
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