Forgiveness plays a critical role in the healing process of the offended party. The natural response to hurt is revenge, but this approach escalates the problem because the offended person carries a psychological burden as long as s/he does not forgive the offender. Forgiveness interventions have been shown to assist the offended party to overcome anger, develop self-esteem, and move on with life. However, the forgiveness process is complex, and thus it requires professional help in a bid to reap maximum benefits. The church is one of the institutions that can be used to spread the gospel of forgiveness by offering practical tools to be used by the offended parties as they recover from their hurt.
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Two forgiveness models exist, viz. “Worthington’s REACH model and Enright’s process model” (Magnuson & Enright, 2008, p. 114). The church foundation rests on the forgiveness of humanity’s sins through the shedding of blood at the cross. Therefore, all individuals acknowledge that they have sinned and received forgiveness, and thus they should extend the same to their offenders. Therefore, the model suggested in this article focuses on different “levels of forgiveness education that take place every year to cultivate a culture of forgiveness and the expectation of forgiveness” (Magnuson & Enright, 2008, p. 116). These learning programs inculcate the principles of forgiveness based on biblical principles and available models. People should be taught how to grant and receive forgiveness in a bid to recover from their hurt.
The authors outline the different parties that are involved in the forgiveness training programs in the church. They include pastors, associate ministers, the pastoral care department, and lay volunteers. The target groups include singles, couples and families, children, and other individuals. These programs equip people to be psychologically, philosophically, and theologically sophisticated forgivers.
My initial response after seeing the paper was that the church has nothing to offer in terms of helping individuals to learn how to forgive others. This view was due to my conventional thinking that churches are supposed to preach the gospel of repentance and the forgiveness of sins by our creator. However, after reading the article, I now appreciate the critical role that the church can play as a forgiving community. The church is composed of a body of believers who believe that their sins have been forgiven through the shedding of the blood of Jesus on the cross. This aspect forms the premise under which the church can play a critical role in creating a community of forgivers. After reading the article, I realize that people can easily forgive others after acknowledging that they have received forgiveness at one point in their lives. Therefore, by integrating this understanding into the available forgiveness models, people can learn how to forgive their offenders easily, which forms the basis of healing and overcoming anger.
I am interested in this topic because I have realized that the number of people holding on to resentment is increasing rapidly. Human relations require people to interact and in the process, one side may end up offended and hurt. Therefore, in a bid to assist individuals to learn forgiveness, I have developed an interest in this topic. Consequently, I plan to read numerous articles on forgiveness and the role of the church in the process. In a bid to enhance the discussion of this article, I will focus on how children can be shaped from a tender age in a bid to learn how to forgive others so that by the time they are grownups, they are sophisticated forgivers.
Agnes has approached me as a pastor. She is depressed because she has been hurt by her philandering husband of two years.
Pastor: Praise the Lord Agnes
P: Welcome to my office. Kindly make yourself comfortable
A: Thank you, pastor
P: So, what is the problem?
A: My husband of two years has been cheating on me. He has confessed to me and asked that I forgive him by claiming that he won’t repeat it.
P: Why can’t you forgive him if he has promised to reform?
A: This is not the first time he is doing this, he has been sleeping around with women and blaming it on the devil, and I cannot forgive him
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P: Are you born again?
A: Yes, I have accepted Jesus as my personal savior
P: Are you a sinner?
A: Yes, I am. The Bible tells me that we are all sinners
P: And do you believe that your sins are forgiven every time you confess them to your heavenly father
A: Of course, I do pastor, the Bible tells me that he is faithful to forgive us if we confess our sins
P: Well, Jesus calls us to be like him. Even when we were still languishing in our sins, he looked at us with love and died on the cross for our sins. We did not do anything good to earn salvation. We have been saved through the forgiveness of our sins after we confess them. Therefore, we are required to forgive one another so that we can be acceptable before the lord
A: I understand all that, but I just can’t forgive him. It’s not that easy, you know!
P: I feel you Agnes, and I appreciate the fact that it is not easy to forgive, that is why I will recommend that you join one of our classes on forgiveness so that you may be taken through the process successfully
A: I will appreciate that. Thank you for the kind gesture
P: You are welcome Agnes! Jesus loves you
Magnuson, C., & Enright, R. (2008). The church as forgiving community: an initial model. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 36(2), 114-123.