What If Repentance Seems Impossible?

Hey, thanks again for sending in questions related to our recent sermons. This last week we talked about both forgiveness and accountability and that a Christian community should really be known for both, talked about how those might sound a little contradictory. How could I hold someone accountable if I’m also forgiving them? But one bridge between the two is repentance. So we push standards on ourselves and on others until the pressure builds to a point where we repent and turn from what we’re doing toward God.

So a question came in this week asking, it’s not Christian to hold a grudge, which is true, but then the person who sent in the question said, but it’s also impossible for me to talk with the offender about the offense because the offender won’t listen and won’t repent. So this person feels kind of in between a rock and a hard place. It’s I can’t hold a grudge and I don’t feel like I can talk to the person who has offended me, who I would be holding accountable because there’s no repentance over there. What do I do? I think we’ve all been in that situation one time or another.

The answer is we keep pursuing reconciliation. We keep pursuing the person. We keep trying to draw their attention to what’s going on. We keep talking about our hurt, if it’s applicable to the situation. Two corinthians five.

Paul writes that we have a ministry of reconciliation and that we are Christ’s ambassadors. And as Christ ambassadors, we have this ministry of reconciliation. We’re always going to be working toward that. Jesus says in Matthew five, if you’re going to church, if you’re going to go give a gift at the altar and you remember your brother has something against you, leave your gift, go be reconciled to your brother and then come back. Matthew 18 says, if you have a problem against someone else, you go to that person.

If that doesn’t work, you take another person along. If that doesn’t work, you bring it before the whole church. So Jesus, in the Book of Matthew there Matthew five and Matthew 18 shows us that whether it’s somebody has a problem against us or we have a problem against somebody, either way, our job is to go initiate reconciliation. And this is not easy, right? The person isn’t going to listen.

It’s definitely awkward to say, I’ve tried talking with you. It’s not getting better. We need to keep talking about this, right? If the person’s not willing to do that, that’s the point that you say, okay, it’s time to bring somebody else into this conversation. This is Matthew 18.

Step two, you bring somebody else along with you, say, my goal is to reconcile with you. Christ has given me a ministry of reconciliation. I’m going to pursue you no matter what, and you’re not listening. I’m still hurting. So we got to bring somebody else in on this to try to help us reconcile to each other to be a mediator in our conversation.

Like, no matter what, I’m going to keep pursuing you. And that’s difficult, and I freely admit that that’s difficult. And sometimes we don’t want to do it and be so much easier to just wash our hands of the situation and never see the person again, right? But that’s not the ministry that Jesus has given us. Jesus has given us the ministry of reconciliation where we are always going to be pursuing the person, even if they are continuing to hurt us.

We’re going to try to get them to see what’s going on. That doesn’t mean that we keep putting ourselves in the situation that’s making us get hurt. If we’re in some kind of abusive situation or something, we wouldn’t just stay there, but we would continue to try to reconcile with the person.

In the early church, when Corinthians was written and Paul said we have a ministry of reconciliation, I mean, you got to think there’s only one church in each city, right? So if you were a Christian and you had a problem with somebody else at church, you had to figure out a way to work it out. You couldn’t just bail to some other church. That other person wouldn’t just bail to some other church, right? And it’s not like they were friendlier than we are today or something.

These are still people and so they’re going to be having this kind of conflict and they didn’t have the option to just leave, right? And so Paul’s like, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to have a ministry of reconciliation. Jesus is like, this is what we’re going to do. Somebody’s got something against you, you go to them.

You got a problem against somebody else, you go to them. So there’s really no wiggle room for us as Christians. What we have to do is always be pursuing reconciliation, no matter really how hard it is. And a lot of times we have to bring somebody else into that conversation to get their reconciliation to take place, to get the repentance to take place. So I know that’s difficult, but I hope it’s helpful hope that the person who sent in this question will be pursuing reconciliation with this offender.

And I hope all of us really will because we probably all have some amount of that type of situation going on in our life. Well, hey, thanks for sending in a question and we will see you next time.