Today at Passion, we heard Pastor Herzozog talk about reconciliation. Great teaching, friends! And linked to the beloved hymn, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Check out this lyric:
"Hark! the herald angels sing,Here'a YouTube of one of my favorite versions of the hymn.
"Glory to the new-born king!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled."
Pastor shared the story of the Christmas 1914 in Belleau Wood when the solders - many barely more than boys - put down their weapons and met across the battlefield to sing "Silent Night" after which they spent the night in fellowship, connected by their faith in Christ rather than sitting in their trenches separated by the hatred they had been taught.
He spent the rest of his sermon talking about reconciliation. Here are some high points:
- Jesus himself brought peace in a radical way to the early Church: "for he himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing his flesh in the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in himself he might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity" (Ephesians 2:14-16). In Christ, in other words, peace is not an option. If we believe in what Christ did on the cross, we believe we are made for peace, here on earth.
- We are not promised peace in all things - that there won't be wars or struggles. No. We are not promised that. But we are promised that we can have peace - personal peace - right here on earth in the midst of whatever else is happening.
- On reconciliation, Paul tells us this truth: "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses agains them, and he has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). So. We are ministers of reconciliation, which is so very different from engaging in conflict resolution. Let's forgive. Let's learn to let it go. Let's love one another fully.
- Conflict resolution is coming to terms with transgression, in a sense. It's really allowing each party to the conflict take part in resolving an issue and often the resolultion is not completely agreeable to any party, but is a compromise to appease each party. Reconciliation, to the contrary, is bringing the balance to zero. Accountants do that when they reconcile their bank or other accounts. For Christians, bringing the balance to zero means there is nothing left over after the reconciliation occurs; the transgression is gone and the balance is zero.
- Even earlier in his letters, Paul tells us how God wants us to practice love. In 1 Corinthians 13, there is a list of what love is (Remember this one? Love is patient, love is kind...?), and Paul clearly states: "Love keeps no record of wrongdoing" or as stated in NASB: it "does not take into account a wrong suffered" (5).
- When we pray like Jesus taught us, we say "forgive us our trespasses/sins as we forgive those who trespass against us." I guess, if I want forgiveness for my sin, I need to offer forgiveness to others for their transgressions - and I need to offer that forgiveness whether they ask for it or not. And why not do that? We've already been promised forgiveness by Christ himself.
- Hatefulness, bitterness, the failure to truly love... those things are like cancer. And cancer never stays where it starts. Forgiveness is the cure for that particular cancer.
Pastor always leaves me with so much to think about. And when he said today, "if a certain person walked in the room, would you feel weird about making eye contact?"
I examined the corners of my heart and realized there is not a single person I would fail to look in the eye. I would not feel any discomfort. I've made my amends. I've done my work. I've walked in forgiveness until I felt reconciled. And the best thing about it is that I feel like I'm done agonizing over the things that have happened to me and the things I have done. I don't even want to talk about them anymore. It's been a long five years of work and revistiting the past to get here, but holy Moses in a handbasket, here I am!
I cannot predict how the people who have actually wronged me would feel, but they are not my problem. I'm worried about my side of the street, and baby, it's clean over here.
Amen! and Peace!