The city of Corinth represented a crossroads in the country between east, west, north and south. It was a cosmopolitan place where peoples from many regions conjoined. Such a coexistence of people can be both a blessing and a challenge with shared joys and crossed swords being experienced, in equal measure, as cultures clash.
The thrust of this week’s message from Andy Vinten at Stonehaven Baptist Church, via the letter Paul sent to the church at Corinth, was to encourage harmony and forgiveness. Relationships between Corinthians and Paul had been breaking down and where before there was forgiveness now there existed condemnation. Paul yearned for reconciliation between those who’d become unsettled and felt the best route to restoration was through forgiveness.
This situation of disharmony is mirrored in communities across the UK today and churches certainly aren’t immune from such troubles. Churches aren’t buildings, they’re a body of people, and since people aren’t perfect there’s always going to be rancour. Each of us goes astray in our own way, perhaps offering words to knock people down rather than build them up, acting immorally, indulging in behaviours we know to be reprehensible yet allowing ourselves the ‘privilege’, we all fall short. Nobody secures a monopoly over wrong doing yet we’re quick to point out the failings of others while being hyper sensitive when others convict us of ours. The truth is that we’re all culpable and no matter how puffed up we may feel about ourselves, we should concede that we each fall a long way short of perfection.
So what do we do about it? Do we throw our hands up and decide anything goes after all, doing as we please whether it harms others or not? Or do we acknowledge the deep conviction within our hearts when we’re behaving indecently and resolve to turn from such behaviours while forgiving others for theirs? It’s exhausting to bear grudges but truly liberating to forgive and let resentments go. Rather than continuing in a loveless manner, blaming and pointing fingers instead of offering forgiveness, why don’t we summon the grace and courage to offer words of encouragement instead? It’s so powerful and frees up all that angst, stress and tension within us.
Maybe this is the week that you forgive someone? If you do you’ll feel so much lighter and brighter. It’s our prayer that you take this brave step and feel blessed by the rewards that forgiveness brings to your heart and soul.