If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. -Matthew 5:23-24
God’s forgiveness is immediate. It’s so immediate that it’s uncomfortable. It’s as though part of you is still standing in front of the Father accusing yourself, making sure He knows every detail, just in case He wants to reconsider.
This is one of the areas where you find the evil that crawls along the floor of your mind. It’s the tall shouldered and determined one that struts through your hallways of resolution. It’s the suit who wears his tie too tight and carries a list of damning scriptures to pin you to the wall and get you out of the running.
Religion is a defunct crusty geared social pinball machine. Religion is the pimple faced kid who finally found something that he can excel at. Power seduces him and makes him feel like a man. His pasty skin stretches across his forehead and his upper lip sweats in the apparent competition for moral achievement. Religion gains his power with what he does and doesn’t do. He’s the obnoxious tourist with his ever present camera. Photos to prove his worth.
Those of us who have been stabbed in ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ by party-hat wearing, fear driven opportunists know what it’s like. If God’s grace is a threat to their moral achievement, then you are a primary target. Instead of visiting you in the Hospital of Moral Failures, they’ll take advantage of your situation and start a campaign against your forgiveness.
You fade in and out of consciousness while the religious investigators take your side of the story and put together their case. You don’t remember what they asked and you don’t remember what you said, but you got this helpless feeling that everything was being taken wrong and the more you talk, the more you bury yourself in a mess you’ll never be able to untangle when you get your strength.
By the time you get out, you’re walking with crutches and so drugged up on codeine that you can’t make sense of the swirling gossip and venom injected ‘Get Well’ cards. Pursed lips are overdressed with berry colored lipstick and apparently somebody was so excited about his new cologne that you can smell him before he walks in the room. Weak from your fall and nauseated by the mess of it all, you shrink within yourself to heal.
Your mind is a bit slower because of the trauma and theirs isn’t, they talk fast and move fast and are disgusted with you when you can’t. They look at you like they don’t know you and try to shock you with a damnation taser and then doubt your remorse when you don’t snap out of it. The visitors stop coming and you’re relieved to hear the clicking of their heels fade into the distance.
Going back to church is nearly impossible. They’ve seen you at your worst, heard you at your worst. Things you don’t even remember are replaying themselves in their heads and it’s tainting the way they see you. The pimple faced kid is sitting with his back to you and laughs a little louder while he works the room like a cheesy martini swirler at a cocktail party.
You try to sing with them, but feel like such an outcast. The grudge they hold against you is so obvious it’s all you can think about. You walk up to them in complete faith, determined to do what it takes to make things right. They stiffen when you approach and force a smile to keep their lips from pursing while you apologize. You put yourself out there and hope they take you up on the offer for restoration, but as soon as you start in, they pat you on the head and tell you that they forgave you a long time ago. And though they’re happy that you are doing well, they are not interested in restoring a friendship.
Where do you go from there? If you’ve done your part to fix a mess you caused, but the one’s you hurt are unwilling to restore the relationship, how can you ‘make your offering’?
Think about this, you’ve done your part. There’s nothing more you can do. Embrace your separation and focus on what you’ve learned in all this. There are valuable lessons found in the tumble. You’ve changed, just like they said…but for the better. Don’t go backward. Go forward.
Don’t worry about what they think of you or are saying about you. People will talk no matter what you do. Just be responsible, do right and keep walking. You’re leaving them behind, shake off the dust and break free. Maybe you were broken loose for a reason. Focus on the purpose.