After my last post, I had a hard time sleeping as it seemed I was getting hit by a flu bug.?? But thankfully, NyQuil helped…but I still have a bit of soar throat here as I return to work on??a Tuesday.On Sunday, my pastor spoke on Matthew 5:21-26 and called us to rid ourselves of anger and hatred against each other–as such is also liable to God’s judgment, just like as if it were murder itself:
21 ???You have heard that it was said to those of old, ???You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.??? 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ???You fool!??? will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
My pastor quoted a lot of Dallas Willard‘s Divine Conspiracy and spent a lot of time??describing??the fallen postmodern age in Willard’s words, where in our society anger towards each other is so prevalent.?? I don’t want to argue against Willard or his book in this post, but my pastor called for reconciliation between brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christ Himself called us to.
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
My pastor asked us what that would look like in today’s time, if we really were to obey Christ like it is written.?? What would happen in church today??if such an act of worship were to take place??? In the middle of the sermon, a brother may all of a sudden stand up, walk across to the oter the side of the sanctuary to get another brother/sister to go outside to talk out a unsettled disagreement between them.?? The worship leader in the middle of the musical worship time may drop his guitar and go take a sister outside the sanctuary to reconcile an unforgiven or unsettled issue that was a thorn in their foot.?? If you were to obey Christ’s command here, how much of scene would that cause?In Jesus example of leaving our sacrifice at the altar, He basically calls us to be reconciled with each other??before offering our sacrifice.?? I thought about this long and hard during service, and some more afterwards.?? It brought to mind how much sin, anger, hatred, baggage, whatever, we bring into church on Sundays.?? It reminded me that we need not to just leave our baggage at the door before worship and take it back home with us, but to truly give it all to God so that He would take it and change it something worthy to be a sacrifice of praise to the Father.?? And in this case, if we have something against a brother or sister, whether it be anger, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness towards a fellow child of God–we need to be reconciled with each other before we bring our sacrifices to God.?? I think this includes almost all of us, so in reality, it’s not a question of if but rather when.
Such a simple command, but so hard to follow.?? Would we miss the entire worship service because of all the unreconciled relationships we have hidden in secret from public shame?I reflected upon myself and the anger and bitterness that I have towards a certain sister in Christ.?? A long time ago, we used to be friends.?? Our friendship ended badly via her initiation, and though I don’t want to dig up the past, we simply do not talk to each other at all these days.?? I recall many times where I??tried to reconcile the friendship, but to my own futility.?? To this day, our relationship is unreconciled, and I know this is not due to my own unforgiveness or passivity.?? I have tried, and God knows it.?? I’m at a stage where I am waving white flags all around me, I surrender to God and what He has in store for us.?? And while I trust God that in due time He will reconcile us, I’m scared and wonder if it is really possible.?? People say it takes time, but I’m still waiting.?? Maybe it needs more time… and so I still wait.?? But from hearing from friends how she is, I wonder why the Holy Spirit hasn’t yet empowered her to contact me to reconcile our differences, if indeed she is growing in Christ as some say she is.And thus, somehow, from somehwere, bitterness and anger creeps into my heart… partly because it doesn’t seem like the other party has any desire to be reconciled–which quite frankly, is un-Christ-like.?? (Maybe I’m completely wrong about this, the other party actually does want to reconcile & is just waiting??for the right time / God’s timing to do so. I don’t know). ??And partly it is a bit of anger and disappointment towards God–who is all-powerful and fully sufficient–and yet we are still not reconciled.?? I am much better than I was 8 or 10 months ago, praise be to God… I am so ready to just move on and get on with life.?? I have forgiven the other party and have forgiven myself, knowing fully well that God has already forgiven me and washed me clean–once and for all, Jesus paid it all.?? By the grace of God, His mercy is giving me the ability to forget what lies behind and the strive forward to lies ahead in God’s call on my life… and slowly, the bitterness and anger is subsiding, letting go of any grudges–all of which is not possible aside from His lovingkindness towards me.I don’t know how it happened, but through just reading His Word more and more, singing songs of repentance, surrender??and commitment, the Holy Spirit has somehow given me this strength of heart for forgiveness and reconciliation.?? I really want to just go to my ‘friend’ and be reconciled… but history and circumstances has it that true reconciliation will not happen here until the other party inititiates it.?? And so I wait upon God, knowing that everything that happens He causes for our good, according to His purposes, and not ours.According to dictionary.com, reconciliation is “the reestablishing of cordial relations.”?? To reconcile, meaning to
- reestablish a close relationship between.
- settle or resolve.
- bring (oneself) to accept.
- make compatible or consistent.
And so, that is the goal–to be reconciled with each other.?? I have no known enemies in my life…and only this one relationship that hasn’t experience reconciliation yet.?? If there is any reason to do so, it is God.?? We love, because He first loved us.?? We forgive each other, because He first forgave us.????It’s the only way??that the world can ever know that we are His disciples–if we love each other.If you have any relationship that isn’t reconciled, and you can do something about it, do so quick.?? There’s no need to let the hurt of our lives??hold us back from truly experiencing the power of God that’s given to those who have faith in Him.?? If You have been reconciled with God, may you also be reconciled with those around you.
The Ministry of Reconciliation11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but??FOR HIM??who for their sake died and was raised.16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.?? The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 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. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.(2 Corinthians 5:11-21, ESV)