May 9, 2011

Communication Isn't the Key?! 
by Katherine Britton, Crosswalk.com News & Culture Editor

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 
Colossians 3:13

Wedding-hopping is a weekend pastime at this stage of my life. I’ve bounced through half a dozen weddings this summer, yet I’m struck by how different each has been from every other. Each couple has a different story that shone through their choice of venue, vows, and – of course – bridesmaids dresses. What I’ve loved most about the differences, however, is the unique wedding homily that each pastor has imparted. One homily in particular has stuck with me, because it upset a few of my presuppositions.

During one ceremony, the young minister told the story of his last trip to premarital counseling before his own wedding. Their mentor asked a familiar question: “What do you think is the key to a loving, healthy marriage?”

His wife paused for a moment. “If you’d asked me six months ago,” she pondered, “I would have said communication. But now, I think it’s something different. I think the real key is forgiveness.”

Forgiveness?

Yep, that sounded about right after I thought about it. I had been married just two weeks at that point, but my sin nature had already made unwelcome appearances in our house. Communicating a sinful attitude to my husband didn’t change it into a right attitude. Nor did communicating that I was upset with an omission on his part move me past frustration.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The minister continued by pointing to the greatest example of forgiveness – that of Christ forgiving His wandering bride. Where He would have been justified in communicating his anger and walking away from her, He chose a different method entirely. The key wasn’t communication, although He told her of His love and what pained Him. He didn’t wait for her response. Instead, He loved His bride enough to forgive her everything, even though it cost Him everything.

I am that bride. I need that forgiveness.

It’s not that communication is worthless, or that dialogue isn’t an expression of love. On the contrary, scripture is full of commands to encourage and exhort each other in love. In rare moments, communication even lets my husband – or my sister, or my best friends, or my fellow church members – completely understand each other’s perspective. But that only goes so far.

Unconditional love manifests itself in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Yes, the sinner, that’s me. I need that forgiveness just as much as anyone, and I need Christ’s example to be able to forgive others. It’s a two-way street that points out our own flaws even as we decide to overlook those of others. Humbling, isn’t it?

Intersecting Faith & Life: How many times are we tempted to remember little annoyances that those closest to us have committed, the details they forgot to take care of, or the times they simply crossed our whims? Yet we have been forgiven so much more than that. I pray that as you interact with the people closest to you today, you will remember that “as far as the east is from the west, so far as He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

Further Reading

Colossians 3:12-17 
2 Corinthians 2:5-11 
25 Affirmations about Forgiveness