I read this article by Wayne Jacobsen here: http://www.lifestream.org/bodylife.php?blid=61
Wayne is the author of many books, including the LIFE CHANGING, "So you dont want to go to church any more" which you can find as a free downloadable ebook off the resources page of our website: http://www.cornerstonekeg.com/Resources.html
Many people I've met along the journey have begun to see clearly the oppressive nature of the Organised/Institutionalised Religious version of Christianity that we grew up in. The religious system that has made an industry out of proclaiming a "Separation" from God in one way or another, and then offers a "remedy" to its victims at a price. Part of this standard "remedy" to "Keep Favour" with God again may include things such as Tithing, Offerings, Attending countless weekly meetings and courses, Reading certain amounts of Scripture at certain times of the day, Praying certain prayers for certain lengths of time on designated days of the week, - and all these remedies are to be swallowed with the greatest of personal commitment and at any personal expense.
A normal course of response once one sees the Good News a bit more clearly is to become extremely critical and angry towards such a life sucking religious system and often people harbour great enmity towards the people who happened to be "driving" that religious machine at the time.
But the fact most often is that those leading the Institution had also been tricked into believing a different gospel. Perhaps having not know any better themselves and whole heartedly "serving God" to the best of their understanding.
This article, although covering betrayal and forgiveness on a much broader scale goes a long way to bring a Love perspective.
Its quite long so for the sake of easier reading chunks I divided it into a two parts.this is the 2nd part. See part 1 here: http://thesoundofreign.blogspot.com/2012/05/betrayal-forgiveness-and-reconciliation.html
"Unforgiveness is like drinking rat poison while waiting for the rat to die," is a common, but wise expression.
Our unforgiveness does not impact those who have hurt us. It doesn't even protect us from further hurt. It merely leaves power in the hands of those who cause damage in the world. Forgiveness is the healing salve in broken relationships. It does not excuse someone else's behavior; it merely frees their victim from the ongoing pain of their actions and the desire to pay them back. By doing so it opens the opportunity for us to find healing beyond the pain, and the freedom to move on with God's further work in our lives.
But forgiveness is not just a choice of our will; it is a process. It begins by bringing our hurt and pain to Father so that his love can heal us from what others have done to damage us. This may take a few weeks or even years, depending on how deep the betrayal, but don't stop short until his freedom comes to reign in your heart. Somewhere along the way, as he untangles the pain and leads us out of it into greener pastures, you'll find yourself able to release the other person from your judgment and entrust them to God.
You'll know forgiveness has had its work in you when you no longer feel the angst in your stomach when you think of the one who hurt you. You'll find God's love more powerful than the most destructive intentions of others. In the end, we learn to forgive as we understand how much we need God's forgiveness ourselves. When I have a difficult time forgiving someone else over a long season, it has helped me to ask Jesus what it is about his forgiveness that I don't yet know for myself. The more I understand his forgiveness for me the easier it becomes to give it away to others.
What I love about forgiveness is that it is a unilateral process. It doesn't depend on the other person owning their failure or asking me for it. My forgiveness of others is transacted with God alone. I free them to God. And, as much as God allows, I take my liberty from their continuing influence on my life. Forgiving can allow an amiable relationship, but it will be a distant one. You can keep the peace with them by not bringing up the past, but the friendship will not heal.
Nothing in forgiveness heals the relationship, nor does it give respect back to those who were hurtful. Many have been taught that true forgiveness erases the past and lets us start over. It does not. While I remove my judgment from them, their actions may still expose their true nature. While I can continue to love them, it is love with eyes wide open, aware of the deep inner torment that they live with and their willingness to thrust it upon others in an instant.
A Heart for Reconciliation
Forgiveness alone, however, does not fulfill the Father's greatest desire. Broken relationships in his family break our Father's heart. It results from sin twisting us and our competing for things he has not given. Redemption always holds out hope for reconciliation-- even with those people who have wronged us most. God's ability to restore friendship between estranged children of his, is one of the greatest fruits of his work in humanity.
In the past four months I've had the blessing of being part of two reconciliations of important friendships that were cut off in days of pain and betrayal. Both separations lasted over 15 years and have now been healed. I wish it hadn't taken so long, but this isn't a process we control. What absolute delight it was to work through the pain, misunderstandings, and confusion that caused the separation, and celebrate the grace of God that triumphs in all of us, even beyond our own brokenness and failures!
While forgiveness is a unilateral process, reconciliation is a bilateral process where the relationship is healed. This can only happen when both parties are ready to sit down and honestly explore each other's story with a spirit of compassion and humility. It cannot be forced and can only happen when all parties truly value the relationship over any other agenda. Reconciliation embraces a love greater than our need to be vindicated.
This, too, is a work of Father we respond to, and not our responsibility to make happen. Until each heart is prepared to truly listen to the other's story, laying aside own assumptions and judgments, admitting mistakes, caring about each other's pain, and mitigating any way we can the damage we caused. That's what allows friendship to be renewed.
Do I Trust Them Again?
Does reconciliation restore trust? I'm asked that question almost every time I discuss it. Of course not!Reconciliation does not require us to trust again. That's a different process. While it will allow us to love them again, reconciliation does not restore trust. The sad truth is that while it takes years to build trust it only takes a minute to destroy it. Once destroyed by abuse or betrayal, trust has to grow again even after the friendship is renewed. You can forgive a spouse who abuses you, and even find reconciliation as he owns his failure, but reconciliation doesn't change people. If we simply trust someone who has not yet changed, we only set ourselves up to be exploited again.
Reconciliation doesn't make you stupid or gullible. Cheap promises are not a substitute for transformation. Trust, once violated, can only be won back by the demonstration over significant time that God has dealt with their inner darkness, and they have come to value the relationship above their own self-interest.
You don't trust a stranger, and you don't re-trust someone who has betrayed you even after you've been reconciled. We are never told to trust someone beyond our assurance that they will lay down their life for us. Trust is the fruit of an ever-deepening relationship of mutual love and respect. One of the greatest joys in human relationship is to engage relationships of love and growing trust that endure the test of years of shifting circumstances. It is a journey worth cultivating, and one worth protecting. Why anyone would trade that joy for any temporal gain is beyond me. They are giving up more than they know.
The Sweet Smell of Death
I recently spent some time in New Zealand with a friend of mine named John Beaumont, he challenged me to look at a Scripture differently than I'd ever interpreted it before. He told me that a passage in Second Corinthians that has been misinterpreted for centuries. This is where Paul writes that we are a fragrance to those being saved, and to those that are perishing. "To the one we're a smell of death; to the other the fragrance of life." (2:16)
John explained that most people think that we are a smell of death to the world and fragrance of life to the church, but the construction of the verse won't support that conclusion. We are actually a smell of death to those being saved, and a fragrance of life to the world. How can that be? My confused look caused John to go on.
"The smell of death for the believer, is one where someone has been crucified with Christ and their 'life is now hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3)," John concluded. Is there any greater fragrance than someone whose wounds, ambitions, preferences, and agendas have been swallowed up by God and who now lives in the simple power of loving and caring for others? The aroma of a life that no longer needs to find its own identity, force its own will, or prove itself, offers a garden of rich possibilities in their daily interactions.
Those who are loved well by Father, will love well in the world. To be a lover of people is the one thing every one of us can do each day that will do more to change the world than any personal achievement we aspire to. Loving those whom God puts before--our spouse, children, co-workers, neighbors, and even strangers--is where real joy is found and where the kingdom work is really done.Each time you offer a greeting, show an interest, serve a need, offer a listening ear or a shoulder to weep on, or any other way you simply care for another human being, you become a reflection of his glory. And every day you treat people with compassion, dignity, and respect, refusing to put your interests above theirs, forgiving freely and seeking healing, the life of Jesus shines a bit brighter in a broken world.
Nothing else you can do today will matter more. "