If I were to ask you how your relationship is with your pastor what would you say? How about your relationship with your church? How about Jesus? God? The Holy Spirit? The church in America is and has been in trouble for quite some time and forgiveness must reign when or should a church you are in splits. Jesus should and must always be the center of everything for His Word is clear that you shall have no other Gods before Him; and yes that would mean the god of pastor worship and religion.
You see; when people get so caught up into their church that should it split; it’s much more challenging to overcome. it’s the devastation to those who didn’t see it coming. It’s the pain of loss of trust and the reality of the truth; nothing will ever be as it once was. Now it’s not to say that it isn’t difficult for everyone involved but if your focus is in a place of people focus and not God focus; you may be blindsided. You may be blindsided to the fact that your pastor is not God- and that is not a good place to be.
Recognizing that a church is made of imperfect people should it splits forgiveness must reign. You see; pastors are people. As with anything some are honest and most are. They are men and women who love the Lord and serve honestly their congregations. Some pastors also prove to be liars and very very good at it. They probably have no clue that it’s their lies and deceit that causes their congregations to fall. And even in the midst of this; each person is still accountable to God for his or her actions therein. Forgiveness must be in the hearts of all involved in any church split.
So how does one forgive or even get to a place of forgiveness? Where does one even start?
1. Forgive the pastor for his faults. Pastors are men and women and not perfect. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” so it reads in Romans 3:23. Should you choose to harbor unforgiveness and judgment toward that pastor it will be what is in your heart; and that would not be of God. Now of course it isn’t to say that the pastor should not be held accountable; however, God is the one who will judge. Let me remind you that it was ‘God’ who used a hailstorm to annihilate the enemies and they all fell dead. So you don’t have to do anything but stay focused on forgiveness and let God do what God does!
2. Forgive yourself for any involvement. Now you may say you weren’t involved in the church split; although perhaps by being there you were. Perhaps you actually knew something at some point and did nothing. Doing nothing in silence is still doing something. You may also want to seek God for what caused you to not only be there, but stay there too. There is a reason why and maybe the Holy Spirit revealed to you long before it was time to go; and yet you didn’t. Remember that obedience is worth more than sacrifice. You want to ensure that you are on the right track with God so just clear the path with forgiveness between you and He.
3. Forgive the church for the pain it caused. Church splits cause much pain. They destroy relationships, they destroy congregations, they destroy the unity in the body of Christ; and they even cause people to simply walk away from Jesus. What must always be recognized is that Jesus is not a church building only open Sundays from 10am-2pm. This is why a relationship with Jesus must be the center of everything! Pastors and churches are two separate things; although may people just combine them as one. The pastor has a role and the church has a role. Make sure you that you are living in forgiveness of both the pastor and the church for pure freedom in Christ!
4. Be thankful. This obviously is a challenge to be thankful for such an experience that can devastate many lives; however, God’s Word is clear: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes 5:18)(NIV) God isn’t unaware of what has occurred. He is aware of your level of thankfulness and your forgiveness- and where your heart is. Thank God that you are moving forward in a new direction. Thank God that there is freedom in the truth! John 8:32 says it straight: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Sure it may be a strange way to get set free; but at least you would be free.
Churches and people everywhere; including you need forgiveness. None are immune. None are perfect. What is most important is that whatever happens in life; your level of forgiveness is your responsibility and you are accountable for what you do. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does but what you do that is of importance. Should a church you are part of split; forgive. And then live. And forgive and live in thanks.