E-votional - Reconciliation
March 22 - 28, 2004

Verse:

ďSo when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.Ē

Matthew 5:23-24 (NRSV)

Thought:

I do not think it possible to go through life without scars. I have scars on my arm, my hands, my face, knee, back, abdomen. In fact I even have a scar on the bottom of one of my feet. Behind each scar is a story, an experience. In each case there was a deep wound, many requiring stitches, some butterfly bandages and others just time. Fortunately for me, they all healed. I imagine each one of us here can recall a scar in our life. Some may think about one which runs the length of our chest, the result of heart surgery. Some of the women here may have undergone a caesarian birth of their child or children. Maybe there is the story of having something fixed in your body, such as a bone or the removal of something, like a cyst, tumor or appendix. Whatever the situation may be, or what the story may reveal, it all points to a truth in life. Wounds are a part of life, we are wounded people. With life, we need healing, we need reconciliation.

Hear the Good News, Christ calls us to a life and ministry of reconciliation, a ministry of healing and forgiveness. While this is easier said than done, it is not impossible. It is easier said than done because there are some wounds that go much deeper. The deeper the wound, the more complex the healing process. Superficial cuts require the most basic of healing, maybe a stitch, may be just a band-aid, but the deeper cuts require a slower, more thorough healing process. In our life, we experience hurts, deep hurts that others canít see and are in need of special and thorough healing. They come from relational breakdown and they inflict a type of pain that if we are not careful, they never go away, instead are buried deep within us, festering, only to emerge and explode on the unsuspecting. These hurts are inflicted by people we love, trust, who should know better, work with, family, spouse, friends, people we are close to. These are the experiences of abuse, slander, betrayal, control, manipulation, abandonment. They can paralyze us and effect daily decisions and effect simple relationships. They overflow and flood our soul.

Though we respond in a variety of ways to emotional and relational hurts, there are 4 basic responses. The first is Revenge. We have all heard the passage which reads "an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" (Ex 21:23) The second, Resignation, has us respond by saying or thinking, "thatís just the way it goes, thatís just how they act." Yet, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul writes, "Donít let the sun go down on our anger." (Eph 4:25-27). We also must resist the response of Resentment. One of the easiest ways for us to react, it can really poison us. It destroys who we are. The problem is we tend to enjoy resentment, as we drag them down, it props us up. The response of Reconciliation is what we are called to. Basically to respond with reconciliation means first, you have to do something, take initiative with contrition, be sorry, go with regret. Move from where you are to where you ought to be. Go with regret for the wounds and pain that have occurred. As awkward and clumsily unnatural as it might be, we are to say those two simple words, "Iím sorry". We then are to go with forgiveness. This is not the acceptance of unacceptable behavior. While Jesus confronted that which was wrong, He went with love and forgiveness yet He called it for what it was. There is a difference between forgiveness and approval. It does not mean we have to throw away our brains, we are different that is okay, we can live as friends and agree to disagree. When we go to reconcile with another, we have given the difference up to God. This leads us to the final element of reconciliation, knowing God is with us. Truly God is the only one who can forgive. To forgive comes from God, it is where Godís presence in us begins. We are to fully forgive and let God take it, take the darkness, resentment, hatred and pain from us. Too often we insist on holding onto the emotional experience and allow it to marinade within our soul, flavoring and possible spoiling or even poisonings everything we do and effecting all we are.
A favorite author of mine, Frederick Buechner penned these words on forgiveness:
"To forgive somebody is to say one way or another, ďYou have done something unspeakable, and by all rights I should call it quits between us. Both my pride and my principles demand no less. However, although I make no guarantees that I will be able to forget what youíve done, and though we may both carry scars for life, I refuse to let it stand between us. I still want you for my friend.Ē
To accept forgiveness means to admit that youíve done something unspeakable that needs to be forgiven, and thus both parties must swallow the same thing: their pride.
Forgiveness is not conditional. In the first place, forgiveness thatís conditional isnít forgiveness at all, just Fair Warning; and in the second place, our unforgiveness is among the things about us which we need to have God forgive us most. The pride that keeps us from forgiving is the same pride which keeps us from accepting forgiveness."

Prayer: 

   Gracious God, restore me please, help me to be all I ought to be. This, I know, can only happen through and by You. There are no short-cuts or alternative restoration processes, it is Your changing power, because You are the author of my life, the Artisan Himself. Thank You for all You have done and all You continue to do.  In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Grace & Peace

David Banks
Jewett United Methodist Church
PO Box 254
Jewett, TX 75846
(903) 626-4003

 

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