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ARE YOU WILLINGTO TRULY FORGIVE? (9/4/11) SCRIPTURES: Romans 13: 8-14 & Matthew 18: 15-20 KEY CONCEPTS: Forgiveness & love are two of the most Divine characteristics for true disciples of Christ. EPISTLE READING ROMANS 13: 8-14: The book of Romans is one of the most deeply profound letters from the apostle Paul. He developed deep theological concepts throughout the 16 chapters with some scholars noting this letter was Pauls last theological will & testament to the church of Jesus Christ. Universal accountability before God is Pauls key theme in the early chapters of the book. Rather than argue about Christian salvation, the book of Romans is a sustained appeal for holy & mature living directed toward the Gentile (i.e. non Jewish) Christians. Paul calls both Gentile & Jewish Christians to a life of common justice for all is the letters enduring legacy: for the early audience AND for 21st century disciples of Christ. Romans 13:7 is an amazing passage because it challenges people to live both in this world & in the dominion of God. This passage also segues beautifully into todays reading. Pay to all what is due them taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. (v.8) Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law In todays reading, Romans, chapter 13, verses 8-14, Paul continues as he admonishes his audience to live as though love fulfills the law. The hope of Christs imminent return is a salient reason for Christs disciples to awaken to live holy & honorable lives.
(Summarized from The New Oxford Annotated, 3 edition, NT, 242-243, 262).

PERSONAL APPLICATION: So, I ask each of us this morningto whom are you indebted? And Im not really asking you about your creditors (i.e. your mortgage company, credit card companies, etc.). Im asking you to whom are you indebted to spiritually? Who in your life is God calling you to Respect Honor Love as a fulfillment of Gods law TRANSITION: And even as the reading from the book of Romans commands us to respect, honor & love people because of our deeper commitment to Christian maturity, the reading from the Gospel of Matthew leaves no doubt as to how we are to respond when people particularly people of faith wrong, mistreat & hurt us. GOSPEL READING MATTHEW 18: 15-20: Matthew, chapter 18, verses 10-35 address life & relationships within the church. These instructions are for how to get along with people who also claim to know Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is the guiding principle in church relations & resolving conflicts. If people are truly interested in forgiveness & restoring relationships within a faith community, here are the bullet points from Scripture: If (Id say when) another person in church sins against you YOU go to THEM & talk about it in private just the 2 of you. Goal: Restoration & forgiveness When the person listens, then youre both back in relationship

Not listened then its still YOUR responsibility to have a 3rd party to listen, mediate & help BOTH of you work toward a positive resolution If person refuses to listen, then YOU still continue to attempt to resolve the issue taking incremental steps to include ONLY the people necessary to resolve the issue not win the argument

GENERAL APPLICATION: Why is this passage important for a faith community? I believe its important because at every phase of the interactions both parties are called to take responsibility to work diligently toward resolution, forgiveness & restoration: true hallmarks of Christian discipleship. PERSONAL APPLICATION: Having been in ministry now for almost 25 years, I have realized that this passage can be misconstrued when a person feels like s/he has been wronged by another person. Often when a person, who has been wronged, offended or sinned against, if the person is a mature disciple of Christ, s/he will work to overcome the hurt, ask to speak to the person BEFORE gossiping about the situation to all his/her friends. Immature people or immature followers of Christ usually make a difficult situation far worse! They make a mountain out of a molehill damaging an already strained relationship for what reasons - to get attention; to get everyone to side with them; & to feel justified in acting badly toward another person. CLOSING THOUGHTS: Wanna know why these verses were included in Matthew? I think it was because Jesus knew how truly human we all arehow so many of us LOVE to be the victim & the offended party; how we LOVE to moan & groan (like Eeyore) about how badly someones treating us. How no one spoke to me at church How no one invited me to lunch How the pastor didnt give me his/her undivided attention How the leaders in the church dont.(you fill in the blank) In closing, the September worship & sermon theme is a tribute to our anniversary weekend with Rev. Delores Berry. The theme: TRANSFORMATION: IS GOD STILL ABLE & ARE YOU WILLING? I still believe that God is still able to bring about transformation in each of one of us! The only question, then, is Are you willing to be transformed? Are we willing to be changed? To be willing to be transformed by God then each of us MUST be willing to forgive other people when they do us wrong! We must forgive (as found in the Matthew passage) & we must love each other. FORGIVENESS & LOVE hallmark qualities of true & mature disciples of Christ! If were ever going to experience genuine & lasting transformation like Rev. Delores Berry predicted for you for us for Our Hope MCC we ALL have to be willing to: Genuinely forgive others from our hearts & in daily life Pay our debt to love others from our hearts & in daily life Honor & respect ALL people especially ourselves & those in this faith community GOD IS ABLE TO CHANGE YOUR LIFETO TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE AS A GLBTQ (& STRAIGHT ALLIED) DISCIPLE OF CHRIST.ARE YOU WILLING?