The gift of forgiveness is at the heart of community.
You can listen to today’s devotion by clicking on this SoundCloud link.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Colossians 3:12-13 English Standard Version
I’ve seen plenty of California Sea Lions in my years of roaming the Oregon Coast. I’ve watched them surf, annoy fishermen, and gather in large colonies. This male was swimming near a popular gathering place for sea lions, a place properly called, “Sea Lion Caves.”
Earlier in the day I listened to the incessant barking of many sea lions around the docks of Newport. So, I expected to see the same scene at the Caves, but this was the only sea lion I saw. He was swimming alone, and looked alone.
Maybe he needed a break. He’d had it trying to attract females to his territory. Maybe he got in a bar fight with some of his buds. He looks like many of us feel. We feel alone.
Is it possible that we feel alone in the Christian community? How is it that we experience loneliness even when we’re surrounded by people who are the same as us?
The easy answer is to blame the person who feels alone. “They need to be more outgoing.” “They need to make the effort to get to know others.” “They need to…”, you fill in the blank.
Some of us reading this blog have felt so lonely that we don’t want anything to do with other Christians. It’s not that we’ve lost our faith in God, but that we’ve lost our faith in people who claim to know Christ but don’t live like Christ.
If the Christian community takes seriously Paul’s words to the Colossians, there might not be as much loneliness in the Church, especially if we’re willing to forgive each other as we have been forgiven by Christ.
Loneliness is the result of sin. Sin not only separates us from God, but it separates us from each other. It isolates us. Through Christ we are forgiven. And through Christ we strive to forgive each other.
A community wrapped in forgiveness cares about each other. A community wrapped in forgiveness understands that loneliness should not be a part of our life together.
May people who are lonely find the Christian community a place of belonging.
Copyright Douglas P Brauner