Why I Decided to Forgive People in the Church

Why I Decided to Forgive People in the Church

“We know and rely on the love of God”

See 1 John 4:16

Had I known this all along, my bitter thoughts toward legalistic people in church would’ve been nixed a long time ago: We are the church. Us, all believers, all throughout the world as a whole, we form the church. Church is not a building, but us.

So any time you read the word church in the Bible, rather than picture a bunch of holier-than-thous trying to spray the world with cleaning fluid, think of the body of Christ. You, me, everyone—together. Don’t think of a building, but think of us.

Friend, Jesus died to remove the need for a physical place to find God (see Matthew 27:51). Because of His sacrifice we are now the temples of God! You and I are personal places where the Spirit of God actually lives and dwells! (See 1 Corinthians 6:19).

I didn’t know that. I thought if I didn’t go to a building, God wouldn’t love me. In turn, I’d be a second-class Christian and He’d rightly make my life miserable. Why was this? It was because of the false advertising from the religious group. By religious I simply mean those who find their identity in what they do and don’t do for God, rather than in what Christ has done for them. 

Because of what they had taught me for so many years, I didn’t understand that God loved me unconditionally even if I never stepped foot in a church building again. Further, sitting in a church building no more made me know God than sitting in an emergency room made me know how to perform brain surgery.

There are many people who’ve been going to church for decades–some even pastor churches–and they still have no clue about the never-ending love of Jesus. All they know is, “I go to church.” They’ve created a self-righteous law called Sunday Morning Church Attendance rather than simply allow Christ to live through them seven days a week. Having your own parking spot at church and a worn out Bible means nothing if you still refuse to grow in the knowledge of God’s grace.

However, forgiving these individuals is very important. It is natural for me to forgive them as Christ has forgiven me. Not only that, if forgiving them is important, attending a group can be important as well. But only if the unconditional love of Christ is being taught and shown. I wrote about this very subject in my first book, True Purpose in Jesus Christ. Here is an excerpt:

Next up, I’d like to address the idea of, “I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” And sure, we don’t need to go to church to be a Christian, but as I learned more about Christ within me, I finally asked myself, “Why am I really not going to church?” My answer was this: because I don’t like how the people at church cause me to feel.

As a Christian, I naturally love everyone. Yet I had fallen into the trap of harboring hurt feelings. And what else is crazy, I developed an over-empathy for non-believers who got picked on by unloving people. To overcome this, I began to ask God, “Show me how to love religious people,” and He has.

Yes, we can pray at home (or anywhere), we can listen to Christian music and sing along. We can even study our Bibles and watch a grace-filled teacher on TV or online, but church attendance is still important because certain people AT that church might need our presence. That is, if that place teaches and expresses the love of Jesus. If it doesn’t, steer clear of it.

Hebrews 10:25 says we are “not to forsake the fellowship of one another”–and no, this is NOT a law telling Christians to GO TO CHURCH OR ELSE! After all, the first church building wasn’t even erected until approximately 150 years later. Instead, this verse is saying our gatherings can be a time of wonderful encouragement. If you read the verse right before this one, it explains the context, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

Another neat thing you will experience by attending a Christ-centered church is you get to see and feel what it’s like to have the Holy Spirit dwelling among so many people at once! This cannot be described in words! No, we aren’t “feeling chasers,” but there’s nothing wrong with feeling great feelings! I believe this is a preview of what heaven will be like, which is all believers enjoying God, together, forever!

A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, I want to thank you for forgiveness. Yes, I know because we’re fallible humans, we can make mistakes. You knew this ahead of time, and that’s why you have everything set up on your grace. Right now, I ask that you help us to make the entire world the church. We want to make it a place where your love and glory shines bright. Use our hands, feet, and mouths. Break down the four walls of the church buildings, as well as the walls in our minds, so Jesus’ name gets carried into the stratosphere! In your name Jesus I pray, amen.

This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here

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