Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No Surprises Here...More on Reconciliation

I don’t know why judgmental piety continues to shock me, but it does. If you’re not a Christ-follower, than this post will be of little interest to you. I do want my unbelieving friends to know that I admire and appreciate your honest authenticity!

I’m ashamed of the way we Christians sometimes treat one another, and it’s time we take ownership. Whether I express my frustration in a small group, or on a social networking site, the religious extremists always slap me down.

The latest came after hearing a sermon a couple of weeks ago. I have sought reconciliation with a handful of church leaders several times. I’m not sure why I keep going back in hopes of building bridges. I mean, they’ve made it clear that reconciliation is NOT on their to-do list, but I’m a romantic optimist (and I keep thinking the leaders will do the right thing).

So, after hearing the convicting message about anger, forgiveness, and reconciliation, I posted the following as my status update: “Hey church leaders. How can you hear a sermon like that and not be motivated to reconcile?”

Several people shared their own personal stories of disappointment and frustration, but one person said, “How sad that some people can’t forgive.” That is absolutely a true statement, but what does it have to do with my observations

Look, both statements are accurate and factual. We are commanded to forgive AND reconcile! Not either/or, but both are necessary to build a healthy body, a flourishing church, and robust spiritual health.

I guess I’m not sure why my friend decided to respond to my comment with her mention of forgiveness. Was she passing judgment on me—suggesting that I hadn’t forgiven? I forgave the gossip, lies, and cruelties exacted on my family and me years ago, and then I was convicted to seek reconciliation. I’ve written before about how restoration was denied me, however, because I work for the theatre.

The importance of reconciliation is expressed all throughout the New Testament. Matthew 5:24 admonishes us to not even offer our gifts to God until we have been reconciled with those from whom we are estranged. The verse says, “First go and be reconciled with them; then come and offer your gift.” GO…and be reconciled. How much clearer can it be?

So, before we sing in the choir, sit with the babies in the nursery, greet at the doors, or put a penny in the offering bag, we are to go and be reconciled. Yes, we are also to forgive, be kind, love one another, be generous and peaceful, etc…

I have many non-Christian friends, and I love them dearly! I’ve learned more about what it means to be of good character from them than from so-called believers. They do right by people just because doin’ right is…well…right.

I’ve seen un-churched friends leave work early so they could go see someone they argued with and be reconciled with them. They don’t have an angel sitting on their shoulder to prompt them to make the good and honorable choice, but they do it because the relationship means that much to them.

Christians pray for forgiveness, and then think that act excuses them from doing the virtuous thing. Yes, that’s a general statement, and it certainly doesn’t apply to all believers, but it’s far more common than I’m proud to admit!

Maybe if we weren’t so sure we’d be forgiven for every little thing, we’d be more careful of what exactly those little things were!

Look, I’ve reached out and sought agreement and mutual understanding from Christians, and I’ve heard every excuse as to why it can’t be. But those justifications have NO Biblical foundation. So let me sum up…we Christ-followers are called to forgive AND reconcile. It’s simple and clear.

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