by Bob Wickizer

Radical Forgiveness
Bob Wickizer
Exodus 14:19-31; Psalm 114; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

By the time our hair starts changing color or falling out or both, most people have accumulated enough pain, enough betrayals, enough insults, enough rude behavior to fill at least a couple of drug store novels. If you don't find this to be true for yourself, you may be one of those people who needs to look back and see if perhaps you were on the other side of the table all along.

But if you know that you have been on the receiving end of such painful life experiences, you also know how things worked out. Many times we try to just slink away and pretend it didn't happen. Other times we fester for months or years in a kind of slow-burn mode. Still other times we may have exploded at the offending party leading to more pain and confusion all around. When we have resorted to the ways of the world, the resolution of pain just never seems to work. Ulcers, upper GI problems, addictions, grinding of teeth during sleep, sleeplessness, anxiety, panic attacks and cardiac problems are often caused or exacerbated by unresolved emotional pain. What does Jesus have to say about this?

Last week's gospel gave us pretty explicit instructions on how we should handle a person who disrupts the community. My one comment about Jesus' instructions has to do with his introduction: ''If another member of the church sins against you.'' Most people interpret the word ''sin'' here as some violation of the Ten Commandments or something very serious. But the word ''sin'' has a much broader meaning here. It simply means to miss the mark. It might be better to reframe Jesus' introduction as ''If another member of the church offends you…'' In this context, most churches have a lot of work to do.

Peter sat there and listened to the instructions about conflict management in the church. He must have nodded in agreement as this teaching is very much in line with earlier rabbinic teachings in a ...

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