1 John 4:18, New International Version (NIV)
18: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.
By their fruits you will know them. People look at the physical fruits at CJ and think it is a good place, because such emphasis is placed on beauty and cleanliness. The leadership has always stressed looking good, and the current leader places a very high value on the arts. The true fruit that should be examined is in the lives of the members, both current and past members. CJ portrays those who leave as “bad” people, unable to fulfill their “call” from God. There are so many of us who have left, and we all have tales to tell of pain and harm inflicted upon us. That is the fruit that needs to be recognized. There was not a single day at CJ that I was not in fear of punishment. Love was misrepresented as being fulfilled in complete submission to the instructions of the leadership, and the fear of punishment was held over us as a threat, and was also freely wielded to bring us into line.
Also, interestingly, most of us who have left have found good fruit in our lives because we left. I know I have. Good fruit in the world around me, in other people, and in my own life. My life has blossomed and is bearing good fruit because I left. In spite of the damamge inflicted upon me. Because of the choices I have made since leaving and the life I am chosing to live now. Now that is something to be happy about and thankful for!
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Abiding, finding the core in me that houses God, not the opposite of having to always look outward to authority for my spiritual life. That inward base is the only place where fruit can grow from.
Courage is not just emotional. It requires that rational element of being able to – not talk oneself out of being afraid, – but rather to bring reason to focus on the fear, to find out its cause and to implement protection and change for oneself in order to find peace.
God forgives the repentant sinner. That is the pattern. I forgive those who have hurt me when they are sorry. God’s forgiveness is already given, and sits there waiting for me to participate. I can do likewise. I forgive CJ. My forgiveness sits there in the heavenly bank for whenever they are sorry and want it. My forgiveness does not assume they see their need for it, in fact, I do not believe they see anywhere they have been wrong as of now. But I want them to know, that acting in the Spirit of God’s love, that when they do realize what harm they have done to me, my forgiveness is ready and waiting for them. They will have to ask for it to receive it, but it is there when they do ask.
Pain is inflicted from outside in. If we align with it, we perpetuate it inside, but it begins from without. Healing happens from inside out. Outside support can help and encourage the healing, but healing action is from within.
“We are asked to love our enemies, not because the social consequences of such love will be to make friends of the enemies, but because God loves with that kind of impartiality. We are demanded to forgive those who have wronged us, not because a forgiving spirit will prove redemptive in the lives of the fallen, but because God forgives our sins.” – Love and Justice. Selections from the Shorter Writings of Reinhold Niebuhr, Edited by D. B. Tobertson.