2Cor. 2:10 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,
2Cor. 2:11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
The interrelated corporate body of Christ is revealed in Paul's discussion here of forgiveness. Paul is telling the Corinthians that if they are willing to forgive someone, then, by default he has also forgiven them. The body of Christ is connected to the extent that if one member forgives another, then the entire body has forgiven that individual. He said that if he too forgives someone, he has done it for them and that this forgiveness is done in the sight of Christ. Not only is the body of Christ interconnected, but the body is also participating in Christ. Therefore the forgiveness is not just for the body but also in Christ.
Why is all of this forgiveness important? Because the enemy is scheming against the body of Christ and our participation in Christ. His desire is to create disunity; to disrupt the relationships found among one another and with Christ. Christ's great commandment was to love God and love neighbor. If the enemy can destroy those relationships of love, it's all over! Therefore, why not scheme to have members tempted to do things that disrupt the community of faith. Why not have people commit sins for which they need forgiveness that creates dissension among the body? Sins that make one say that we should forgive them, and others say we should throw them from the community! Why not have the body argue over how to treat this brother or sister until there is such dissension among the body that the enemy is left laughing at the community of faith.
And Paul warns that we should not allow Satan to outwit us -- that we should not be "unaware of his schemes." For he is scheming and the body of Christ must be aware of what is happening. Recognize our responsibility in forgiving so that Satan does not destroy us!
Does all of this sound familiar? The enemy is working over-time to do all that he can to create chaos and confusion within the body of Christ. What we often fail to realize is how interrelated we are. We somehow believe that what one member of the body of Christ does really doesn't affect the entire community. The sins committed by members of the body of Christ are extremely destructive to the entire body but the reaction of the body may be even more destructive and this is where we fail to see the corporate responsibility.
When one person fails and sins, what is the reaction of the community of faith? Interestingly there are those who have different experiences, from different backgrounds who see the reaction to sin in different ways. There are those who believe that we must point out the sin publicly and have those who have committed the sin stand before a congregation and confess all that they have done wrong and ask for forgiveness from the entire community of faith. Interestingly I think Paul would see this as disruptive. He is telling us that if forgiveness is provided by one member of the community of faith, then the rest of the community must understand that forgiveness has already been granted. And the community of faith must understand that each and every member acts as an ambassador for the community. Therefore if the individual comes and privately asks for forgiveness of a member of the community and that member hears the whole story and is able to pray with them and help them find forgiveness, then there is no need for that individual to hang out all the dirty laundry for the entire community of faith to see! That would be Satan's scheme. And why not because it would mean a glorification of his power to subdue this individual.
Instead, this model of forgiveness presented by Paul is one in which Christ is lifted up and glorified. It is a model in which the interconnectedness of the body of Christ to one another and to Christ himself is revealed. I am in him and he is in me and we are in one another. Corporate forgiveness comes from individual forgiveness. We must act and react as the body of Christ ever mindful that when we are united in each other and in Christ we are a powerful force that can withstand the blows of the enemy. When we are divided the enemy is victorious. He must not be allowed to gain a foothold. We must stand firm in him and in each other. Satan is scheming, but the holy love of God is even stronger.
Lord, please help your children to be united together in you and to reach out to forgive those around us who need your forgiving touch. Amen.