I learned to snowboard during the huge December snowfall of 1998. The day I first strapped on a board, there was over two feet of new snow on the slopes and it kept falling hard all day.
Not only my first day snowboarding, it was my first snow experience of any kind. This girl from the tropics was pretty excited.
I took a group lesson. At first it was awesome. Everyone moment was magical. Then it was frustrating. I couldn’t stay balanced. I spent most of my time on my butt (or face). Snowboarding was hard. It wasn’t fun. I was cold.
Then a moment that changed everything: the instructor switched by board around. “That’s the problem,” he encouraged me. “You’ve been leading with the wrong foot. You’re a goofy foot! No wonder you’ve been having a hard time.”
That switch was a game changer. By the end of my first lesson, I was a skilled “falling leaf” snowboarder. 😉
My joy and success came from one important thing: Knowing which foot to lead with.
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He moved me to tears. His words were beautiful truth.
He said something like: The church is a family that is offending each other and forgiving each other. Over and over.
Forgiving each other. That’s what makes us different. THAT is our hallmark.
NOT that we are un-offensive. NOT that we meet or hold others to some level of appropriate behavior. NOT that we deserve to be loved.
Our cultural identifier is: Our unending forgiveness of each other.
Oh Francis Chan. Thank you for pointing, once again, to the fullness of God’s Word.
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When I talked to my amazing husband about it, he asked “what about correction?”
He is right, of course. If it’s all about forgiveness, when does correction happen?
Correction needs to happen. Mentors need to speak instruction and guidance. People need to change. God’s plan is to transform us towards holiness.
But, isn’t it all a question of which foot we lead with?
If we LEAD with correction and follow with forgiveness, are we truly behaving like God’s people?
In a world of regular-foot riders, God is a goofy foot.
In a world where we give forgiveness only when it is deserved, God gives it liberally while we are still inflicting Him.
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. ” (Romans 5:6-8 NLT)
To mirror our Father Yahweh, we must LEAD with forgiveness and follow with correction.
Check out Matthew 18:20-22. Two well-known passages that happen to be right after the other!
For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I am there among them.
Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”
“No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:20-22
In the midst of our community, God dwells… and forgiveness between humans is needed to the nth degree!
Riding goofy foot made my life better
Snowboarding regular foot was awful. I was miserable. I was struggling. I was failing. Riding goofy was fun. My body worked better. My balance was strong. I stayed on my feet.
How much better will life be if we live with the right leading foot? Our church families will work better. Our faith balance will be strong. We will stay on our feet.
Forgiveness first. Correction second.
The church is a family that is offending each other and forgiving each other. Over and over.
I have new glasses on: I am expecting my friends and church family to offend me. And I am bracing myself to lead with forgiveness. I will choose it… (Help me Holy Spirit!)
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My community of goofy-footeds
I am now choosing to lean towards those people who ooze forgiveness. I want to be a groupie that follows forgivers around. I want to be bubbling with it. I want my words to be full of grace. I need to rub shoulders with people who lead with forgiveness.
Thinking again about 1 Cor 13 being a snapshot of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It’s a passage about the Body of Christ (not marriage / weddings). Read 1 Cor 12 & 14 to see the whole picture.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
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This post is a response to the “Fellowship” topic in Francis Chan’s “Basics” small group study.
P.S. I am not talking about abusive situations. (Abuse is not ok. Run. Get help. Stay away from dangerous people.)