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Today’s post was written by and used with permission from Rusty Wright
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I cannot imagine perceiving my father as a monster.

Bart Millard saw his father as a monster and more.

My dad was warm, gracious, fun, affirming, friendly, professional, caring. A loving husband. By example and precept he inspired me to aim high in life, school, work, and relationships. As a boy, I loved playing catch with him, shooting baskets, attending football games, hanging out. Throughout life, when I failed, he was there to console me, to help me pick up the pieces and move on in a positive direction.

Bart’s dad, Arthur, was any kid’s worst nightmare. Anger and rage consumed him often and drove Bart’s mother away. Bart often felt the leather strap and paddle. “As I became a mischievous toddler,” he recalls, “my spankings slowly escalated from normal discipline to verbal and physical abuse.” Arthur once smashed a dinner plate over Bart’s head. Eventually physical abuse morphed into silence and indifference.

Hopeless highway to hell?

I Can Only Imagine could be a depressing movie and book if the story ended there. But the tale behind the popular song of the same name by the band MercyMe could inspire anyone whose life has seemed a hopeless highway to hell. The cast includes Dennis Quaid, Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman, singer Trace Adkins, author/actress Priscilla Shirer, and Broadway singer J. Michael Finley.

Bart is careful to explain some factors beyond his dad’s control that contributed to poor character development. Arthur’s own father’s divorce and quick remarriage had thrust ten-year-old Arthur into head-of-household responsibilities far too early, sowing seeds of anger and bitterness.

Arthur became a well-liked local high school football star in Texas, but later dropped off the SMU football team to care for things at home, sacrificing a possible NFL career. “Dreams” were worthless; “reality” was what counted. He made sure his son knew that “Dreams don’t pay the bills.”

A horrible on-the-job traffic accident put Arthur in a coma for eight weeks. After that, his temperament seemed skewed, and rage filled their home.

Prodigal father; unforgiving son

Young Bart found escape from family strife and loneliness in music and friends, often through his church youth group. Inspirational music lifted his spirits. The group leader and members helped instill stability and faith. During a camp session, Bart placed his trust in Jesus. But he couldn’t forgive his dad.

The film and book depict with grace, tenderness, and beauty what became of this prodigal father and his unforgiving son. I won’t spoil the story for you, but suffice it to say that the path to redemption and restoration was pretty amazing. In his book, Bart affirms his belief that “God transformed the monster I hated into the man I wanted to become. …From an abusive dad to a loving father. From a heart of stone to a life of grace.”

Mainstream media surprise

I Can Only Imagine” – Bart’s tribute song for his father, performed with MercyMe – eventually became a smash hit on Christian media. Then a mainstream FM radio DJ with a reputation for sometimes crude dialogue played it as a joke for his listeners. Phone lines lit up. People wanted “to talk about what the words meant to them and how it made them feel.”

The DJ invited the band to be on his show and the song’s popularity spread among mainstream stations. MercyMe appeared on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show and on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and now has performed at Radio City Music Hall, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, CNN and ABC News.

Paul, an early follower of Jesus, wrote of his Lord’s ability “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Getting Bart to forgive his dad falls into that category. This film is well worth seeing, contemplating, and applying.

Rated PG (USA) “for thematic elements including some violence.”

Opens March 16.

I Can Only Imagine Official Page USA

I Can Only Imagine Official Page Canada

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

I Can Only Imagine poster

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In last week’s post, I talked about the steps to take if someone has done something against you, and more specifically against God’s principles, but isn’t willing to admit he’s wrong. But what if he does realize he is wrong? What if he is sorry and asks forgiveness? What if he has asked for forgiveness a dozen times before, but he keeps asking for forgiveness for similar things? At what point do you stop being patient? At what point do you stop forgiving?

Peter asked Jesus that question in Matthew 18:21. Peter also suggested a possible answer. He suggested that seven would be a good number of times to be willing to forgive someone who has sinned against you. This was actually quite generous on Peter’s part, since Rabbinic teaching held that you should forgive three times, and you needn’t forgive the fourth. So Peter was doing his best to be loving, but Jesus wanted more from him—and from us. Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22) Now, do you think Jesus meant that Peter should get out his scroll (or shard of pottery since they were easier to come by) and keep track of each time he forgave someone? Then stop when he got to 78? I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant. I think the number Jesus gave was significantly larger than the one Peter gave, and even more significantly larger than what the rabbis taught, that His listeners would get the idea: keep on forgiving.

Jesus followed this answer with a parable to reinforce His teaching. (Matthew 18:23-35) Jesus tells the story of a servant who owed a great debt to his master. The master said it was time to collect, but the servant couldn’t pay so he begged for more time. Now, the servant owed 10,000 talents. A talent was the largest unit of money, and ten thousand was the largest number for which the Greek language had a specific word. Jesus’ use of these huge amounts would have had the desired effect on his listeners. There was not enough time in his lifetime for the servant to ever be able to completely repay this debt. His master had mercy on him, and forgave the debt. One would think the servant would be grateful for mercy in the place of justice. He justly deserved, according to the laws of the time, to be sold into slavery, along with his family so that at least some of his debt could be repaid. Instead, he was free to go and owe nothing. But he wasn’t so kind to a fellow servant who owed him 100 denarii. A denarius was equivalent to a day’s wage for a labourer, and 100 days’ worth of income--27.4 percent of a year’s income--was not an insignificant amount. It would have taken some time for that servant to pay back such a debt also. However, since a talent was worth 6,000 times more than a denarius, and the first servant owed 10,000 talents compared to the second servant’s 100 denarii, the amount of debt relief received by the first servant would make up for what was owed by the second servant many, many times.

The debt that was cancelled by the master to the first servant was an enormous act of mercy, and represents God’s act of mercy in giving up His own son to pay the debt that we could never possibly pay. All he asks from us in return is that we forgive the small things that our fellow disciples do to us. Significant, perhaps, but nothing compared to the mercy we have received from God. And he wants us to keep on forgiving them, without keeping a count.

The fight between good and evil—it is a common theme in books and movies, especially older movies, but there is no question that it is also a part of our daily life on this Earth. I Peter 5:8 warns us to be sober and alert. The devil is looking for someone to devour, to win over to his side, so we must be constantly aware and work to avoid being ensnared by him. Ephesians 4:27 instructs us not to give the devil a foothold, an opportunity. How can we do that? The whole message of Ephesians 4 is that we need to be transformed from our old selves to our new selves through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul encourages us to live with humility, gentleness, patience and love in order to maintain peace and unity in the Spirit. In Ephesians 4:22-24 we are instructed to put our old ways behind us and to start living as the person who was created in God’s image, striving to be like Him by knowing His truth. One specific way to do this is to follow the guidance given in Ephesians 4:26: Be angry and do not sin.

Anger is an emotion, a gift given by God, and it is impossible to avoid becoming angry. Sin, however, is an act of the will or a lack of self-control. We choose how we will act when we are angry, either consciously or by failing to exercise self-discipline. Some Bible scholars state that because the verb in the original language is in the imperative form, we are commanded to be angry, and they discuss the value of righteous anger. God gets angry at sin, and so should we. Of course, God is sinless and we are not, so we are in much bigger danger of doing the wrong thing with our anger. Other scholars say that yes, it is the imperative form, but it is a permissive imperative. In other words, go ahead and be angry if you must, but be careful what you do with it. Whichever interpretation you believe to be true, the rest of the sentence is clear: do not sin. Make sure that you are controlling your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to control you.

The second half of Ephesians 4:26 should be taken symbolically rather than literally. It doesn’t mean that if you get angry in the morning you have a longer time to fume and stew than someone who didn’t get angry until later in the day. It means that you should resolve the disputes between you as soon as possible, and you should do it in the light of day. Darkness symbolizes deceit while daylight symbolizes truth. Work out your differences with pure motives. Forgive each other as we talked about last week. If we can control our anger and keep from sinning in the midst of this intense emotion, we will succeed in keeping unity and peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we will not give Satan a chance.

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Last week, when we were talking about the model prayer that Jesus gave His disciples, I made quick mention of Matthew 6:14-15. I think these two verses warrant a little further discussion. As I said last week, Jesus has already paid the price for our sins, and His gift of forgiveness is freely available to us; all we have to do is accept it. Our request for daily forgiveness helps us to be aware of our own sins, and helps to keep us in a right relationship with God—one where we depend on His love and grace.

Matthew 6:14-15 says that God will not forgive our sins unless we forgive others. We must be careful not to interpret this in a way that will contradict other passages of scripture. Romans 3:24 tells us that we are all justified by God’s grace through the redemption that has been provided by the death of Jesus. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace through faith. It is a gift from God, and not something that we can earn. Therefore Matthew 6:14-15 cannot be referring to the matter of salvation. If you have accepted Christ’s salvation, however, and you want to be His follower, you should be willing to forgive others. Of course, our human nature is a factor, and it isn’t always easy. I know there have been many times that I have prayed something like, “Lord, I really want to forgive, because I know it is the right thing to do, but my heart isn’t quite in it yet. Please help me.”

We must also remember that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Dr. Grant Mullen, author of Emotionally Free explains. “Forgiveness involves just you and God. Reconciliation requires another person. So, just because you forgive doesn’t mean you’re reconciled or that you have to reconcile. Some people are just too dangerous to reconcile with. You just have to forgive and be separate.” Let us hope that that is not true of our fellow followers of Christ. God would like us all to be one family, His family, characterized by love for each other, but since we live in a fallen world, that isn’t always possible. We cannot always determine how others will act toward us, but we can control how we act towards them. If we want to do it God’s way, that will be with love and forgiveness.

Today's post was written by Donna L. Watkins.
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With forgiveness being recommended now even by the medical world, many are looking for specific steps to be used in forgiveness. There are many "techniques" out there and many people have been through all they've read, and faithfully followed through with the suggestions, but still have this burning sting from words that were hurled at them at some time in their life -- or for actions that spoke much louder than words -- and they don't know how to get beyond what "that person did."

Recently I had a family member choose to dump our relationship because I made a one sentence statement in a gentle tone against listening to him rant about another family member. After instantly hanging up on me, he wrote me a note to cancel plans we had to meet on a future date, and then stopped all communication.

I had decided to take a stand against listening to "evil reports" of other family members and that was grounds for termination in his mind. It seems life holds nothing else for him but to repeat the worst of the tv news, weather or family issues. I didn't see that it was a relationship at all if the only function I was to have in his life was to listen to the ranting and reviling.

Then I also heard he'd already begun talking about it to other family members. I certainly wasn't surprised that he did, but I was very surprised that it bothered me. I was actually relieved that I took the stand and said that I didn't want to be in the middle of it. Admittedly I was initially delighted that he would no longer be calling 3-4 times a week for those downgrading conversations. The more I would try to add positive comments to these conversations, while trying to honor his position in the family, the more useless I felt about it all. He seemed to think I was a Pollyanna and it was exhausting to find enough Light to cover the Darkness that he chose to talk about.

So, why would I feel bad about this with so many obvious benefits for me? My wonderful husband is never lacking with resources on Spiritual issues, so he handed me a booklet called, "Rewards of Being Reviled," by Bill Gothard.

The book says that "reviling comes from a heart of scorn and contempt. It is the spewing out of anger and hatred. It is a verbal attack upon another person, given with deep emotional fervor. Its purpose is to vilify, to defame, to bring shame upon, to discredit, and to attribute evil and sinister motives to what that person says and does. It is to engage in ridicule. To ridicule is to cause others to laugh at a person or his ideas. It is to sneer, scoff, and belittle him. Ridicule is an expression of disdain."

It talks about all the ridicule and reviling that David experienced and I have always loved Psalms in times of trouble. His enemies provided opportunity for him to be able to write with deep emotion and insight.

The cool part of the deal is that the books says, "Notwithstanding the serious nature of reviling and the severe consequences for those who engage in it, there are great rewards for those who endure reviling and understand God's purposes for allowing it to occur. Matthew 5:12 tells us to "Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven."

It gave a story of a little girl that had been stung by a bark scorpion, the most poisonous scorpion found in Arizona, which results in excruciating pain and numbness, then swelling, physical weakness, dizziness, tightening of the throat, and tingling of limbs.

Since this had happened before to the mother, they now had a small device that produced a high-voltage, low-current electrical charge. When electrodes from this unit are placed in the area of the sting or bite, they send a positive electrical charge into the victim's bloodstream. This, in turn, neutralizes the venom, which has a negative charge, and renders it harmless. This leaves only a mild soreness for a short time and a small mark of where the scorpion struck.

Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." Reviling is using the power of the tongue for death, and blessing is using the power of the tongue for life. A curse is like a negative charge, and a blessing is the positive charge that neutralizes the destructive nature of the negative charge.

A verbal blessing is more powerful than a verbal curse because good is more powerful than evil. God is more powerful than Satan, and light is more powerful than darkness.

On a mission trip, a student was reviled by the leader during a heated conversation. The incident hurt and shocked her and weeks later she was still emotionally involved in the incident while continuing to rehearse the reviler's words in her mind and feeling the pain each time she did.

She had forgiven this leader, but her emotions were rooted deeper than her words and her forgiveness was hollow and insincere. As time passed, her wound only became more infected. Her forgiveness was a surface response that she knew was Biblical and right, but it did not reach the venom that was surging through her emotional veins. The venom of reviling is long-lasting.

One day she heard a message on the power of verbal blessings and why it is essential for us to bless those who curse us. She understood this concept, and that night she could not fall asleep until she verbally blessed the leader who had reviled her.

Since then, she has continued to have freedom in her spirit from the hurts of this past event. She also has a deeper walk with the Lord as a result of this experience.

How do we do this?

Scripture provides words that can be used: Numbers 6:24-26: "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face to shine up on thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."

When we ask God to bring His benefits to the lives of revilers, we are blessing them. I have often looked back at some of the genetic options of my family tree and can easily say, "There but for the grace of God, go I." It certainly makes it easier to have mercy and grace on others who have not chosen to walk out of circumstances and generational curses.

My prayer for blessing my enemies is that those blessings will overcome the darkness of the curses that have caused them to be so angry. If you will look back on the situation you struggle with, you will find ways that God blessed you because of it.

Let me give you a personal example that Bill Gothard shared in his booklet mentioned above. He writes, "When attendance at the Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar first began to multiply, it was something of a phenomenon and was certainly a surprise to me. I could not explain it and was therefore hesitant to talk about it to reporters. They assumed that this constituted secrecy, and two Christian magazines published articles of a defamatory nature.

" I called the writer of the first article and tried to explain what I thought he had misunderstood. He reacted, and matters became worse. When the second article was published, God prompted me to have a different response. I called the writer. When he learned that I was on the phone, he cautiously answered. I then said, 'I have called to tell you how God has used your articles to benefit my life and ministry." He was totally surprised and said, 'Oh?' I continued and explained that God had used his article to do a work in my life, and in the ministry in three very positive ways.

" First, I was forced to reexamine what I was teaching and how people perceived what I was saying. Second, it unified the people who had been to the seminar and knew that the article reflected a misunderstanding of what was being taught. Third, as a result of this reviling, people had sent in thousands of dollars to encourage me and to support the seminar ministry.

" I'm sure the writer was not expecting this response. He became warm and friendly, and thanked me for my call. God has blessed both of our ministries since that day .... and today I consider him a friend."

My prayer is that this will allow you to give some thought to another approach to your memories and wounds. Ask God to first show you good that has come from it. Ask him to let you see how He has used it for good in your life as Romans 8 promises. Then, take the above suggestion from Scripture and choose to bless the person every time the memory returns.
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Donna L. Watkins lives in Central Virginia with her wonderful husband enjoying birds, wildlife, gardening, forests, nature travel and her cat, Squeek. More articles can be found at TheHerbsPlace.com and a free subscription to her mailing, A Healing Moment. http://www.theherbsplace.com/ahm.html

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Today is Good Friday. It is the day that we remember the death of Jesus by crucifixion—a horrifying death of slow torture, ridicule and public humiliation. He had committed no crime, and yet He endured the worst punishment known to man. He died by being hung on a tree, a symbol of being cursed by God. (Deuteronomy 21:23-24) So why do they call this Friday Good?

It is good because Jesus chose to endure this agony so that we would be spared eternal punishment. He took the curse upon Himself so that we would not have to bear it. While He hung on the cross, the rulers, the soldiers and one of the criminals hanging beside Him all mocked Him and told Him to save Himself. One of the criminals added that He should save the two of them as well. The irony of this is that if Jesus had saved Himself at the moment, the rest of us would not have been saved at all. The sin of the world demanded the atonement that only comes from the blood of a perfect sacrifice. Jesus’ enduring the suffering of the cross was our only hope for salvation. Despite the injustice of Jesus’ death, the innocent man dying in place of the criminal, God was still at work. He brought the ultimate good from this situation.

Even while dying, Jesus was not concerned for His own life, but for the lives of those around Him. This was His whole reason for coming to earth. As they were crucifying Him, He was asking for mercy on their behalf. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:33-34) If anyone had reason to seek revenge and the ability to elicit the wrath of Almighty God, it was Jesus. But He did not. Instead He asked the Father to forgive His abusers. Jesus was following His own precepts, and He wants us to follow His example too, (John 13:15) to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) and to forgive others. (Colossians 3:13) By the grace of God, and the working of the Holy Spirit within us, we will be able to do just that. Let’s demonstrate the good every day. Are you willing?

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Can you imagine what it would be like to have an abortion that didn't succeed? Can you imagine what it would be like for the baby? To be honest, I can't really imagine either scenario. It's not something that I've thought very much about until the last few days. On Wednesday I posted a movie review written by my colleague, Rusty Wright. The movie is October Baby, the story of a young woman who finds out not only that she was adopted, but that her birth mother had intended to abort her. This story was inspired by Gianna Jessen, who really did survive abortion. You can meet her, and the makers of the film, in the following video.

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Today's post was written by Rusty Wright.
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October Baby movie: Do you feel wanted?

Almost everyone wants to be wanted … by their spouse, lover, friends, parents. How would you feel if a person whose love you craved not only didn’t want you but also tried to eliminate you?

For nineteen-year-old Hannah Lawson, that feeling drives a quest to discover her real identity. You see, she’s just learned the likely cause of her mysterious lifelong health problems: She’s the product of a failed abortion attempt.

October Baby traces Hannah’s journey of bewilderment, anger and anguish as she searches for her birth mother and wrestles with family secrets. Romance, laughter, faith and forgiveness mix with pain and turmoil on this attractive teen’s odyssey.

Choices and Consequences; Caring, not Condemning

Abortion, of course, is a thematic powder keg, and this film – inspired by a true story – may generate some provocative headlines. But its screenplay is caring – not condemning – in fleshing out the human consequences of choices and reconciliation.

Actress Rachel Hendrix says playing Hannah affected her deeply: “I … was able to emotionally dive into the reality of this story, and feel it. And something shifted in me, and I got it, I got it.”

Hannah’s adoptive parents (John Schneider, Smallville, The Dukes of Hazzard; Jennifer Price) struggle wondering what their daughter can handle about her past. But Hannah’s determined search for answers becomes an entertaining and gripping saga that blends sleuthing with tender young love and sweet forgiveness.

How to Let Go

In a particularly touching scene, she wanders into a lovely cathedral. “I can’t figure out how to let go of the fact that I feel hatred for myself and others,” she explains to the kindly priest.

“I’m angry at my real mom for not wanting me. Why didn’t she want me? What’s so wrong with me?”

This wise cleric is a good listener. He sensitively mentions that the cathedral was named for the biblical Paul who, he says, once wrote, “Because we have been forgiven by God, we should forgive each other.” (Ephesians 4:32)

The parson’s application for Hannah? “In Christ you are forgiven. And because you are forgiven, you have the power to forgive, to choose to forgive. Let it go. Hatred is a burden you no longer need to carry. Only in forgiveness can you be free, Hannah. A forgiveness that is well beyond your grasp, or mine. … ‘But if the Son shall set you free, you will be free indeed’.” (John 8:36)

Intriguing Backstories

The movie has powerfully influenced some participants. Gianna Jessen – whose personal story inspired the film, and whose singing graces it – says she has “the gift of cerebral palsy, which was caused by a lack of oxygen to my brain while I was surviving an abortion.” Of October Baby: “I laughed so hard, cried so hard, and healed. Thank you!”

Life imitates art in some eerie ways. Shari Rigby, who plays Hannah’s birth mother, actually had had her own abortion 20 years earlier. She had kept it a guarded secret and felt stunned when approached for the part.

During a climactic cinematic moment, her character collapses in tears as she faces the significance of Hannah’s life. Rigby admits she wasn’t acting then; the tears were genuine as she experienced personal emotional and spiritual healing.

Beautiful Lives

Sony’s Provident Films says the producers have assigned ten percent of the profits “to the Every Life is Beautiful Fund” for “frontline organizations helping women face crisis pregnancies, life-affirming adoption agencies, and those caring for orphans.”

I highly recommend this stimulating and entertaining film, regardless of your views on abortion. Even if it doesn’t touch you emotionally as it did me, I predict it will get you thinking.

Rated PG-13 for “Mature Thematic Elements.” Opens March 23. US Theaters
Check here to find a theatre in Canada.
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Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

I often hear my friends say that they feel guilty about one thing or another. Why is it that we feel guilty? Are we brought up that way? If we are in Christ Jesus, there is no reason to feel guilty. (Romans 8:1)

Romans 8:33-34 asks us who can bring any charge against us. Who can condemn us? Since it is God who justifies us, no one can bring a charge against us. No one can overrule His verdict. There is no higher court of appeal. Since it was Christ who died as a penalty for our sins, and since the power to judge us has been given to Him, (John 5:27) only He can condemn us. But He does not. He is interceding for us. He is taking our requests to the Father even when we can’t articulate them. (Romans 8:26)

Don’t get me wrong. There are consequences to our actions when we do things that we shouldn’t, and we do still have to abide by the laws of our land. We have, however, already been forgiven for all of these things. The price has been paid, and there is no eternal condemnation. Yes, there will still be trials and struggles, but God has overcome all of these things, and they are temporary. We can have hope and assurance of salvation.

If we do our best to make decisions with a pure heart and right motives, we should have no reason to feel guilty. It is the forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12) that are fighting against us and trying to make us less effective by deceiving us this way. If you are feeling guilty about anything, examine your reasons. Have you done something that you need to rectify? Do you need to ask forgiveness of someone? If so, remember that you are already forgiven by God, but you need to take the necessary steps to fix things with your friend or family member. (Matthew 18:15) If not, tell Satan to get out of your face. (Mark 8:33)

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Are you old enough to remember what life was like before Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites were created? Can you think back to a time before the Internet was a common term? If you are too young for that, you might not understand what I’m talking about, but life was different then. Now, people announce everywhere they go and every little thing they are doing. Things that never used to be considered important enough to mention to anyone now get shared with everyone.

That sheds a whole new light on Matthew 18:15-17. Decades ago, if someone had been offended by someone else, they may have been tempted to tell their close friends, and even though that was inadvisable, the matter would have still remained relatively quiet. Now, if someone is annoyed by something, it will very likely get posted to Facebook for hundreds of other people to see and share their opinions about.

The procedure given in Matthew 18:15-17 is probably intended for more serious infractions that may result in excommunication if taken to the bitter end, but I think that the principle is still valid for interpersonal grievances as well. If you are upset with someone because of something they did to offend you, and you wish to resolve the issue and preserve the relationship, announcing your frustration to the world is not likely to help your cause. It is possible that the other person has offended you without even realizing it. If that is so, the matter will be resolved quite easily once you share your hurt. If it was an intentional slight, you will at least know where you stand. We are asked to forgive (Matthew 18:21-22, Luke 17:3-4), and we are asked to love our neighbour (Luke 10:27), but we are not required to remain friends with anyone who intentionally abuses us. We can be respectful to them. We can be gracious and civilized. We can follow God’s steps for reconciliation. But if, in the end, they don’t want to do their part to contribute to a healthy relationship, you do not have to continue to associate with them. If they are family members, of course, it may not be as easy as all that, and that’s where the graciousness and civility will be essential. Nonetheless, we don’t have to go out of our way to spend time with them. At the point where they are ready to adjust their behaviour, because you have already forgiven them, you will be ready to renew the relationship.