Wesleyan Accent


When We Are Most Like Christ by Maxie Dunnam

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In my previous article I made the claim saying yes to forgiveness is saying yes to God. I underscore that claim: We are most like Christ when we are doing what he did in his extravagant gift of love on Calvary…forgiving.

I have a friend, Mary, a former Roman Catholic nun, who works as a program director for a Methodist Church. Her testimony of Christ’s love for each and for all is powerful. Her father left her mother with 14 children when Mary was only 5 years old. You can imagine what that would do to a little girl – feeling abandoned, unloved, unwanted.

She entered the Convent when she was young. Two sisters had done so before her.

She told me her story late one night over coffee after I had preached in her church. I was so moved I asked her to record her testimony on tape. She did – a powerful witness. I had it transcribed. My best to you is to let her tell the story here.

“I entered the Convent for two reasons. One, I felt the Lord calling me to a closer life with Him; and two, I was such a scrupulous individual, and needed direction in the depths of my spirit because I did not really understand that this closer walk with the Lord was meant for me; I was of the mind that I had to make up for my sins. And so, as a teenager in the middle fifties faced with a time when it came time to do something with my life, I was of the opinion that it would be difficult for me to love one person to the exclusion of all others, and marriage therefore seemed out of the question even though I felt that was a stronger personal desire than going into the Convent, but I needed to make up for my sins, and so, I thought God must be calling me into the Convent. Two of my sisters had entered the Convent before me, and I was definitely of a mind that I had to do something to make up for my sins. And, having been let into the Convent, I was blessed.”

“I found the Lord in a most beautifully intimate way. But I also found community life, and it was very threatening, and five years later I ran away because it was too difficult for me in the sense that I was in too much inner turmoil.”

“I wasn’t really a person who shared what was going on inside of her; I didn’t know you could do that and be respected for it. So I left the Convent. Because I hadn’t been counseled properly I went right into another depression and thought, well, God, now I’ve really blown it – I’ve divorced the Lord – and I’m never going to get to heaven. So I went back into my wounded position and cried and wept and prayed, and felt that God moved heaven and earth and Rome, and I was finally accepted back into the Convent. And again I was blessed.”

 “This time I had a little more help in finding out what was really the source of the problem.”

“The word of the Lord came to me through a priest to whom I had admitted having entered the Convent, among other reasons, for the sake of making up for my sins. When he heard this, he literally wept. And then he said, “Oh, my God, didn’t anyone ever tell you Jesus did that. You don’t have to do that. You can’t do that. Just receive His forgiveness.”

“Well, at that time I was almost 30 years old and I had just heard the Good News and praised God.  I received Jesus’ love – it was from a Catholic Priest.”

In deep gratitude for an honest, faithful witness, Mary tells us of a sensitive priest who shared the heart of Christ’s loving ministry – forgiveness.

So when are we most like Christ? We are most like Christ when we are doing what He did in his extravagant gift of love on Calvary — forgiving. 

This post is part II in Maxie’s series on Saying Yes to Forgiveness.  Join us next week as we learn more about how forgiveness is the Clearest Witness That We Are Christian.

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