Peninsula Community Church
The Process of Reconciliation
March 5, 2012
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Editorial note: Much of my notes in this message come from Everett Washington’s book entitled “Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope” published by InterVarsity Press.
The goal is to build bridges that lead to reconciliation. John Paul Lederac has stated that “You cannot build a bridge by starting in the middle. Bridge builders begin from the side they are on.”
But, how do we build a bridge toward reconciliation? I submit to you that there are at least four steps that brings onto a path that leads to reconciliation.
First, we must make a decision to face each other. Notice that here again is the concept of making a decision. The fact is that many times our emotions are not ready or in the place to affect a positive move toward a life of reconciliation so we must make the decision to take this step as nerve racking or risky this may seem.
- We reconcile because we will not allow failed relationships.
- We reconcile because we value the other person and their relationship.
- We reconcile because we know that not doing so spells disaster.
- We reconcile because we will not accept the status quo.
As we walk through these items we recognize that we no longer desire to see or have failed relationships. We will do everything in our power to live peacefully with all men. Hebrews 12:14 “Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” And. Paul in Ephesians 4:3 says that we should be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” By this we are to maintain a unity of affections, of confidence and of love that is only maintained through a life of lived in the spirit and the spirit in the believer.
It is my belief that one of the problems we face in the church today is that we have begun to maintain the status quo where we simply accept things for what they are without fighting for life and health in the body and in the lives of those who a part of the body.
Secondly, we must begin to dialogue about the issues. It is here that we deal with the truth and we dialogue about the real issues that have caused the separation and division in the relationship. Sometimes, when we are a standstill we will need a respected third party to get involved to mediate the process. The key here is to allow God to soften our attitude and the way we speak to the other person. Many people find it is easy to blame others whether take on their level of responsibility.
- Practice forbearance. Instead of lashing out practice patience and self-control. Ephesians 4:1-3 – I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- Practice empathy while the other person is sharing. Too often when we are in thinking about how we will respond or we are thinking of a come back to the point that we never hear the other person.
- Summarize what the other person has said. This will help to clarify any misunderstandings.
- Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Misunderstandings happen not because people’s motives are evil but that they cannot turn their positive emotions into positive actions.
- Be fair in your expectations.
- Speak the truth in love… Eph 4:15.
Thirdly, we must begin to look for ways to detoxify the relationship. We bring forgiveness into the relationship. We drop our right to be hurt. We let go of the pain and we take steps to see the other person healed. The steps to the deteriation of a relationship:
- Criticism that was once in the mind now becomes verbal.
- Criticism becomes defensiveness. Criticism plus defensiveness equals arguments.
- Contempt is the bext action that occurs.
- And, finally they begin to stonewall or war against the other partner or person with whom we are in relationship.
To detoxify we must reverse the above.
And finally, we devote ourselves to rebuilding the relationship. We don’t give up easily. We don’t give up when things get rough because sometimes issues rise to the surface that can hurt the relationship if we allow them to do that.
- Resolve our grief over the loss.
- Build love through empathy.
- Decrease the negative.
- Increase the positive.
As we have noted before one of the themes that runs throughout the Bible is the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation. In the Old Testament there are two examples that best illustrate positive and negative reconciliation.
The first of these stories is David and Saul. If you remember the story you will remember that Saul had been appointed King overIsrael. But on his journey in life, he made some poor decisions that led to a life of bitterness and hatred. Remember that Saul offered the sacrifice that was to be only sacrificed by the high prelist. He became impatient and stepped in where he was not called (1 Sam. 13).
- Disobedient to commands of God on two occasions
- He offered sacrifices that he was not called to do.
- He failed to destroy all of the enemy and the spoils of war.
- He was impatient – He offered sacrifices that he was not entitled to do.
- He blamed others for his short comings.
- He was jealous of David who was honored for his feats but Saul was not praised.
- He sought to kill David although David showed Saul great grace.
We also see that Saul rejected God’s will and plan by disobeying God’s plan for destroying all of the Amalekites and not taken any spoils from the battle. But Saul listened to the people and took animals to sacrifice and also took the king of the Amalekites alive. When Samuel arrived, he scolded Saul (1 Sam. 15).
But, rather than deal with his issues he became angry at David who was getting accolades and praise for his many fetes as the leader of the armies of Saul. In fact, if you read the story on a number of occasions Saul tried to kill David but he was never successful. In many ways we see David walk in forgiveness as he had many opportunities to kill Saul but he refused because he was guided by the spirit of the Lord.
A second illustration is found in the story of Jacob and Esau. What a dysfunctional family we see. We talked about this before but we see that Jacob and Esau best illustrate this idea of the bridge of reconciliation. They both made a decision to approach one another. This was not an easy decision but one that was required so that true healing was realized. They met each another and dealt with the issues of the past which began to detoxify the relationship. We do not know all that happened to them after the event that brought healing to them but we certainly have the story of reconciliation and healing (Gen. 32-33).
Is reconciliation easy? NO! Is it possible? Yes! Can we do it by ourselves? NO! But we have God on our side!