We All Trespass

Dan Lovaglia, Camp Pastor, Camp Paradise | January 25, 2024

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Have you ever received an unannounced visit from the police at your front door? It’s unsettling, especially when your 9- and 11-year-old sons are involved. Apparently, their soccer ball soared onto our neighbor’s lawn while she was mowing the yard. They quickly ran to get it and came back to our property like they’d done for years. But that day, she powered down the mower, went inside, and a squad car pulled up in front of our house not long after. (Insert increased heart rate by my wife and me.) We still aren’t clear why our neighbor placed the 911 call. The officer wasn’t overly concerned with the trespassing offense, but it’s an experience we’ll never forget. To be fair, our neighbor was in the right. Our kids physically crossed the line. But, from our perspective, she crossed the line by calling the police for kids being kids.

It took a long time for me to realize that we all trespass, sometimes on purpose and sometimes unmaliciously, but we’re guilty just the same. Just because I wouldn’t have reported this matter to the authorities doesn’t mean my neighbor was wrong to place the call. As my heart has dissected this situation more than once, I’ve come to realize the importance of engaging empathy when I feel attacked. When I put myself in her shoes, I realize she wasn’t hoping to get our sons arrested as much as calling for help because she was scared. She didn’t feel safe speaking to us directly and was worried about them getting too close to the mower. From that angle, her actions make way more sense and are much easier to forgive.

There are kind, compassionate, forgiving people out there, but not everyone is ready to overlook an offense. Truth be told, you and I may fall into the latter category more often than we’d like. The ongoing command in Ephesians 4:32 is not just to be, but to become and keep becoming more like Christ toward one another. Recognizing that we all trespass and cross the line from time to time in our relationship with God and others helps us engage empathy when someone seems to get in our way.

Next Steps

Who are you having a hard time forgiving? What did they do and how can you see it from their perspective? Ask God how He’d like you to take steps toward forgiving them just as He forgives you.