Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reconciliation. You've Got To Be There

"Got To Be There"

“Got To Be There,” a love ballad about relationships, by a kid who would die after relationship problems dominating his earthly life. But the song had it right. To develop, maintain, reconcile a relationship you've got to be there.

The same is true about the church - you've got to be there!  Now before you go getting all "Yeah" or judgmental that's not the aspect of church that I am thinking about today.  Today, I'm thinking about reconciliation in the context of church.

For reconciliation - you've got to be there.

There remain deep hurts, wounds from my past relationships with the church and within the church.  Severe issues that require forgiveness, but for which I find coming to forgiveness brings little relief to my heart.  I keep thinking, "Be ye reconciled one to another in love, forgiving one another even as God in Christ has forgiven you."

Nor am I alone.  Many other ministers and missionaries have been wounded, discarded, sent away - sometimes forgiven, sometimes not - the churches having divided themselves against them.  Many young adults, and too many middle adults and older adults, walk away from our churches, alienated, often hurting or wounded. Separated, it would seem, from the Body of Christ.  Former pastors, missionaries, young adults, and others, have left or been driven out, find it hard to become united again with other parts of the Body of Christ.  The number who no longer attend institutional expressions of the church remains way too high.

Most of the separated ones, even the ones who have been moved by Christ to forgiving their adversaries, grieve for reconciliation, unity, with the churches in which once they were a part of the family of God.  The distance, however, that has come between them makes it difficult. For those who were driven out, the door slammed behind them renders them helpless to return and seek reconciliation.

But the scriptures regarding reconciliation do not go away.  The scriptures about the fruit of forgiveness, within the Body of Christ, do not cease their claim upon either the offended and, especially, the offender.

Jesus says, "... first be reconciled to thy brother." [Matthew :24 NIV]  Jesus literally says when you are coming before God with a gift of repentance for forgiveness or a thank gift, a gift of praise [that includes almost every part of common worship and private worship], "... first be reconciled to your brother/sister and then bring your gift."

Other related scriptures emphasize this ministry of reconciliation:
  • Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation. [Proverbs 14:9 NLT] or as the NIV says it: "Fools mock at making amends ... but goodwill is found among the upright."
  • God has put the body together ... so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. [1 Corinthians 12:24-25 NIV]
  • All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. [2 Corinthians 5:18 NLT]

  1. Who among us is doing the ministry of reconciliation?
  2. Does it not fall to each one of us to be involved?
  3. Does it not fall upon the church organization to seek reconciliation with the ones they have offended or sent away with actions, not just words, filled with the same pure radical grace extended to us when we were first reconciled to Christ and thus added to his Body?
  4. Can we be restored ourselves until those offended have been reconciled to us?
  5. Is forgiveness complete when it is not offered with the hand of reconciliation?
  6. Is it possible our very worship of God is robbed of joy and true refreshing from on high when we fail to first complete the ministry of reconciliation?
  7. For reconciliation to happen, do we "got to be there"?
I have many questions.  Many I am afraid to answer publicly lest I be hurt again or perhaps some personal hypocrisy and judgmentalism show.  But oh how my heart longs for the freedom, the reunion with joy, which can only come through reconciliation.

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