Sunday, May 28, 2017

Christian Reconciliation – The process of ‘making things right’ before God

In the past few years,  I have been thinking, praying and studying a lot about reconciliation. And for good reason! I have received forgiveness beyond anything I deserve or can even understand. Every day for the past three and a half years I have been taken again to the foot of the cross - realising that in Jesus we have all been reconciled to the Father, our sin thrown into the deepest part of the sea.

God's gift of forgiveness has been truly opened up to each of us. This is reconciliation. And now, we have been given the work of reconciliation until Jesus returns to finalise the reconciliation of creation eternally.

Here's a brief outline of the process for participation in Godly reconciliation as demonstrated in the Bible. There is much much more that could be included.

Sinner: Confess (tell the whole truth), Repent (express sorrow for your sin), Ask forgiveness (1 John 1:8-10). This is the process of reconciliation for the sinner who, having humbled himself, desires restitution of the relationship. If the sinner is not repentant, you'll need to turn to Matthew 18:15-20.

The Church: The system of response to a fallen believer is clearly laid out in scripture. Reconciliation is the primary work given to ‘anyone who is in Christ’ (2 Cor 5:16-21) and should therefore be something we are very good at as Christians. The process of reconciliation (Gal 6:1-5) is one of wariness toward sin, love toward the sinner and forgiveness as Christ forgave us (Eph 4:32).

The offended person: This is the hard part! Forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to us. I can’t count the number of women who have said to my wife and I that they would not be able to forgive their husbands – at least not until some dire consequences were dealt out. Rather than be seen to be speaking out of place, I offer a few texts: Eph 4:32, Heb 8:12, 2 Cor 5:18-19, 1 John 4:19-21, Ps 103:8-12.

One thing is very clear in scripture: God values reconciliation more than sacrifices and offerings. Why? Because God our Creator became our Re-creator through the ultimate act of Reconciliation on the Cross of Calvary. Every time followers of God participate in the reconciliation process it declares: The Lord He is good, His mercy endures forever.

The above assumes all parties are participating in the reconciliation process. On the cross, Jesus made forgiveness available to all. It is up to us to accept that gift. He forces forgiveness on no one. To do so would be unhealthy and ineffective. “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

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