Summary: Broken relationships are devastating, yet forgiveness brings healing. We are called upon to be people who work toward forgiveness.

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Forgiveness—It’s the Heart of the Matter

Sermon Series: Hope in a Hurting World

January 22/23, 2005

St. Stephen LC

Pastor Charles J. Miller II

Interspersed among all the very funny moments in the movie, “Home Alone” are some extraordinary touching and poignant scenes. One such scene has the 8-year-old Kevin, seeing his previously very scary neighbor in church during an afternoon children’s Christmas choir practice. Kevin decides to take the risk of talking to the older gentleman. In the conversation Kevin learns that old guy comes to the practice because it is the only time he gets to see his granddaughter. Being the curious kid that he is, Kevin asks why, and learns that his neighbor and son had a falling out 10 years ago and they haven’t talked since. Kevin innocently asks, ‘why don’t you call him?’

‘Because he won’t talk to me,’ painfully answers the gentleman.

‘How do you know,’ presses Kevin.

‘I don’t,’ comes the honest reply.

Kevin says a few words about his family and forgiveness, then he says, ‘you’ll never know until you try.’

That sums it up for many folks. So many people live with broken relationships because they are unwilling to try, they are afraid to take the risk. Behind the older neighbor’s response is a fear of rejection and the pain of opening up an old wound that has not, nor will ever fully heal. The only hope for healing is to indeed open that wound, but so many prefer to keep it closed and festering.

Of all the things that happen to us in life, one of the most painful is the estrangement of broken relationships. All of us, without exception have experienced this and know the pain! Chances are you are still estranged from someone! No doubt, every person here is dealing with a broken relationship with someone that they cared about or someone you love.

Now, no doubt, you have your reasons and they make sense to you! If you were to sit down over a cup of coffee and tell them to a friend it is likely that they would agree with you. BUT, imagine this. Imagine you sat down over a cup of coffee with Jesus and you told Jesus your reasons and you tried to justify to him the reasons for continuing with that broken relationship, what would your Lord say to you? Would Jesus commend you with, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? OR. Would Jesus say, “Your reasons don’t amount to a hill of beans.” “Get back in the game and work it out”?

I think 8-year-old Kevin’s question, “Why don’t you call them?” is Jesus’ question of us. Our Lord wants us to heal these relationships, and he makes it possible for us through his grace and forgiveness.

What can be done by Christians to reach that place of healing broken relationships?

First of all, we have to recognize broken relationships are nothing new. They didn’t start with the first time you got hurt. They go all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Remember that scene where God calls to Adam and Eve right after they have eaten the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God wants to know what’s happened and good old Adam is quick to shift the blame. “The woman, whom you gave to be with me, made me do it!” The woman, not wanting to get left holding the bag, shifts the blame and says, “The serpent beguiled me”. Can you imagine the argument between Adam and Eve as they are kicked out of the Garden? Eve turning to Adam and saying, “Where do you get off blaming me?” and so it begins.

Secondly, everyone is hurt by the broken relationship. It doesn’t matter who is at fault. Like Adam and then Eve we worry to much about who is at fault. Notice in Scripture God doesn’t care. We are hurt whether we caused the hurt or the other person did.

Now if anyone ever had reason to hold a grudge, Joseph did. Moreover he had the power to exact revenge. Joseph, as the second most powerful person in Egypt could have had his brothers executed and nobody would have batted an eye. Yet Joseph knew the grace of God and refused to judge, asking, “Am I in the place of God?” Instead he was more like God when he forgave his brothers. Joseph’s pride and sense of fairness demanded retribution, but instead Joseph grasped the hope of God and restored his relationship with his brothers. He was better for it and experienced the healing God wants for all of us.

What can be done by Christians to reach that place of healing broken relationships?

The first thing we must do is to recognize that Adam and Eve are us. We must recognize that we are sinners! There are no exceptions to this. None of us are better than another. Not one of us holds the moral high ground. We are all down in the muck. Not one of us has grounds to judge another!

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