Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.Ephesians 4:31-32 NRSV
We often look to Paul’s letters for our theology. This particular verse is about our praxis. It is not about orthodoxy (right belief), it is about our orthopraxy I right action).
One of the biggest issues in the church is how we treat one another. I have heard many times,”I was really hurt at church, and will never go back.” I fully uunderstand for I too have been hurt in and by the church. Sadly, that is truth about far too many of our human relationships. As some bumper-stickers and memes have noted: humans suck.
If you’re shocked that a pastor said that, I can understand. A pastor I know phrases it in a more”pastoral” way, “sheep bite.”
We all want our faith community to be a safe (though what safe means in the context of discipline and dealing with sin is something else) and trusting community. And it should be.
There is a big “except” here. It has to start with each one of us. If we expect or demand that everyone else does it first, then selfishness wins. And that is the problem, selfishness is already winning.