Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Expectation of Forgiveness

We seem to be living in a society and during a time that has rendered itself very unforgiving. For a nation in which the majority claim to be Christians that seems to be in direct contradiction of fundamental Christian teachings. Even with those who align themselves with no organized religion yet like to think of themselves as kind and compassionate, it seems the majority of them as well are quick to condemn and unlikely to forgive. It begs the question why?

People, and unfortunately a lot of times Christians, view the sin and sinner as one. There is no separation of the action and the person. If one behaves in a way that the other morally objects to, often we write the person off. We say, "Well, if they do that or live that way or made that mistake, they must be bad. We can’t associate with them." It makes no sense. I have a pretty diverse group of friends. They differ politically, morally, spiritually, and economically. I have friends who I disagree with or differ with regularly, but I don’t consider it a deal-breaker with our friendship. If nothing else, it provides for interesting conversation.

It is disheartening and discouraging to see so many willing to throw away friendships and family relationships because of differences that are superficial. Even differences that pull at the root of who we are seldom merit the termination of that friendship or relationship. As Christians we are taught to hate the sin, but love the sinner. I think most people, whether religious or not, would agree with that general philosophy. However, that seems to be forgotten or deliberately disregarded these days. Everyone sins, has faults and flaws. Everyone makes mistakes. For those casting judgment it must be difficult to be as perfect as they. So perfect and blinded by that perfection that they forget their past or present indiscretions. If we refused to have a relationship with all those who we at some point disagreed with or argued with it would be a very lonely and isolated existence.

I wish that we all could demonstrate greater compassion and understanding to one another. I wish we could behave in such a way to each other that we didn’t feel we needed to alienate others to remain true to our own convictions. I wish our expectations of others, sometimes unfair expectations, didn’t interfere with our love for those or at least a general sense of common courtesy and decency.
There are things my family and friends do on a daily basis that I disagree with or that offend me or that hurt my feelings. I’m sure the same can be said of my actions toward them. For the most part I let it go. I balance whether or not it is worth making an issue of or risk offending them greater than they have offended me or if it is something that I can let blow over. Perhaps our society would be in better shape if we let more blow over.

Compassion, love, and common decency must prevail in the majority of situations or we will become a nation of cold, unforgiving, insensitive loners. People make mistakes every single day, usually unintentionally, hence the term "mistake". People must stop taking things as such a personal affront to their character. Life is all about family and friends and the relationships we build based on shared experiences. If we abandon them at every offense or difference we will have no one.

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