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 In President's Messages

 

Jesus and Forgiveness

Friends:

During the past couple of years, over 6,000 United Methodist churches have disaffiliated from The United Methodist Church. Over half of those churches have joined the Global Methodist Church and the other disaffiliated churches have become independent.

One of the results of these disaffiliations is that many leaders on all sides are filled with feelings of anger and resentment.

United Methodist leaders often feel that congregations were told untruths to encourage them to leave the United Methodist Church. Global Methodist leaders often feel that some Bishops and Annual Conferences have established unnecessarily difficult barriers to prevent them from disaffiliating from the United Methodist church through approved Disciplinary procedures.

In the Gospels, Jesus constantly teaches his followers to forgive those who have sinned against us.

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught us to pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12). We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and we want God to forgive us. However, Jesus implies that if we are not willing to forgive those who sin against us, how can we be open enough to receive God’s forgiveness of our own sins?

Sometimes people will say, “I will forgive someone who has sinned against me when they confess their sin to me.” However, when Jesus was dying on the cross some of the religious leaders and soldiers scoffed and mocked him and did not confess their sin against him. But Jesus prayed for them anyway, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34-38).

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught his disciples and us: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

I pray for the time when all of us can believe and practice these hard teachings of Jesus, forgive each other as we have been forgiven by God, and pray for those on a different side from us in this disaffiliation conflict.

The truth is that when we harbor feelings of anger and resentment against others, those feelings diminish our own spiritual, mental, physical and emotional health and have a negative effect on our relationship with God and others. By his life and teachings, death and resurrection, Jesus teaches us that the way to spiritual, mental, physical and emotional health and a healthy relationship with God and others is through the difficult practice of forgiveness.

I pray that the time will come when more people experience the blessing Jeus talked about when he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).
 
A sinner saved by the Grace of God,

Rev. Dr. Kent Millard
President
United Theological Seminary

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