Two weeks ago Ron and I were blessed to attend the Freedom retreat in Birmingham, Alabama hosted by Church of the Highlands. This iced our Freedom cake we’d been baking in our small group for the past 13 weeks. Layer by layer we uncovered the good and bad that’s molded us into who we are. We swept away many lingering crumbs of the past, then lit our small individual flames of celebration.
The retreat covered many topics, but it seemed the one of forgiveness softened many crusty hearts. Forgiveness for those who ask for it is one thing, but what about those who never ask for it? We learned in a most powerful way that forgiveness given, even to those who aren’t repentant, can set us free from emotional destruction.
I’ve learned personally through Bible studies with women in various situations that it was one or more Christians who sometimes became the obstacles standing between them and Jesus. So, if you’ve ever been hurt by the Christians in your life, read this letter of apology written on their behalf, and be set free from your bitterness.
I represent the Christians in your life who have shunned, slandered, ridiculed, or misled you. I did not love you like I should have. Because of my own hurt, pride, insecurity, and the rejection I felt from those who should have loved me, I attempted to put you down so I could feel better about myself. For that I am truly sorry. When you asked me for help, I thought you were unwilling to help yourself or only wanted money. I am so sorry.
When you desperately needed a friend just to talk to, I turned my back because I worried what other people would say if we were seen together. I am deeply sorry.
I’m sorry I didn’t take the time to see how alike we really are. God loves us both. Jesus died for each of us. You, however, have been much more honest about your anger issues, abuse, addictions, and deceptions than I have. What I failed to realize was that I needed you, perhaps even more, than you needed me. I’m so sorry for not seeing that sooner. Please forgive me.
When you worshipped God in a way different from me, I criticized you and questioned your sincerity and ability to understand God’s word. I thought you just wanted to do your own thing or put on a show. I didn’t see that I was the one putting on the show. Forgive me for doubting your love for God.
When you spoke of the ways God had shown up in your life, I thought you were just making up fanciful stories. Since my heart was not open, my eyes could not see all the many miracles God had performed in my own life, so how could I possibly think He had done any in yours?
When you asked me about my relationship with the Lord I am so sorry that I merely shared what I had marked off my Christian to-do list rather than displaying all God had done for me. I am sorry I didn’t communicate the gospel message clearly to you. I know now that the gospel isn’t a bunch of do’s and don’ts, it’s simply that Jesus died to pay for my sins, and by believing, trusting, and loving Him I can live forever. I am so sorry I taught you that the Christian life was more about doing right than being right.
I let the worries of this life rot my portion of the Holy Spirit’s fruit. I served you out of the fear of hell rather than my love for God and my thankfulness for all He’s done for me. Please forgive me.
When you asked me to give the reason for my hope, insecurity revealed my uncertainty about getting into heaven. I’m sorry you could not see any confidence in my salvation. I regret you couldn’t see a brightly shining joy from the Lord because of my many clouds of doubt. Now that I have whole-heartedly accepted God’s grace, I am free to live life to the full here on earth and forever in heaven. I hope you see a difference in me.
When I acted like I knew the Scriptures better than you, making you feel unworthy and unacceptable to God, I was wrong.
Please forgive me when I only encouraged you to come to church every week and failed to help you see that life with Christ is so much more than just going to church. Forgive me for insisting you should get involved in church activities without helping you strengthen your relationship with God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
I am sorry I had not experienced being in the presence of God enough to describe how powerful and encouraging that kind of intimacy with God really is. Yes, I read my Bible and prayed – but those were just things I knew I should do. Seeing Scripture through grace-filled eyes paints an entirely different picture of God. Now I can’t wait to meet with Him and talk to Him every morning! I look forward to hearing what the Spirit says to my heart! He places the right people in my heart at just the right time. When I listen, I get to love on people who need it most that day. I am so very sorry I failed to listen when He prompted me to give you an encouraging word, help with a simple task, or to just sit and listen.
I can’t undo all the hurt I’ve caused you, but I do want to love you more and let you see firsthand the freedom I’ve found in Jesus. We are His special possessions, created to do good things motivated by love. We don’t have to do them; we get to! He knows that by refreshing others, we will be refreshed. He’s proven He wants good for us – not harm.
Let’s start over. Let’s be friends who encourage, motivate, strengthen, and fellowship each other. Let’s put aside our need to impress one another or prove ourselves. Let’s refuse to get tangled up in the rules of religion so we can run free, splashing and playing together in God’s grace. I want to know you – the real you. You need to know me – the real me. I repent of every hurtful thing I’ve done, and I ask for your forgiveness.
Now, if you like, take my hand. There’s a man named Jesus just ahead of us who’s calling us by name and singing a wonderfully sweet song.
The Christian Who Hurt You
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6