Its what you do next…

conversation - photo credit - David Marcu

Whether its at work, at home, or in your social circle, when you realize that you are the source of another person’s pain, its what you do next that matters. Truly I hate that moment. Most of us who are conscientious hate it too. These are the moments when our self-defence rituals kick in: blaming, shaming, and fear dancing! We don’t want the conflict. We don’t want a share in the pain. We want it to be the other person’s problem. And so if you are at all familiar with that script it probably means you are going to argue with God when He interrupts your worship.

23“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.  Mathew 5:23-24

When self-justification takes over as our lens for relationships it makes us confident that the real problem is someone else’s problem. “They” have a problem because “they” are wrong, “they” are too sensitive, “they” are too reactive.

But reconciliation is our problem. Jesus wants us to see conflict and pain through the lens of reconciliation not self-justification. When self-justification is our lens for seeing people and conflict then even our worship will be framed by self-justification. We will turn the worship of God into a moment in which we are self-justifying ourselves before Him. We are using God instead of loving God.

That’s why Jesus shows his disciples how God interrupts worship. “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you… leave… Go… and be reconciled…” Why would we suddenly remember? I believe the Spirit of God calls us into the ministry of reconciliation. The Gospel shows us the King’s Mission of reconciliation and brings us into it. A true worshipper saved by Jesus is going to have moments in which worship is interrupted by Jesus for reconciliation within the realm personal relationships.

This passage is one of the reasons why I think our worship gatherings are meant to be way more dynamic and active than they are!

The good news: obedience to Jesus leads us into new options for relationships. You are not in charge of what the other person does next after you approach them. You are only in charge of what you are “doing next” because God approached you in worship and reminded you of the pain another is experiencing in relation to you.

So what are you going to do when you go to them? Try this:
1. I was meeting up with God and He reminded me of you.
2. I think you may be pained by me in some way.
3. Would you like to let me in on what you are feeling and thinking?
Then wait, listen and respond appropriately.

Some of your possible responses: Agreeing with them. Acknowledging their pain. Sharing in their sorrow. Asking forgiveness. Confessing your own. Granting forgiveness. Making amends. Making restitution. Praying together. Creating new boundaries. Waiting. Worshiping God together through Christ.

Reconciliation is a miracle work through the grace of Jesus and it cannot be rushed, but it must be started when the Spirit of God interrupts your worship. When God interrupts your worship, its what you do next that matters.

Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. 17He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. Ephesians 2:16-18

Photo Credit: David Marcu

The King that makes peace by dying.

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19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  Colossians 1:19-20

How do kings and the leaders of our world make peace? Any serious consideration of the question requires us to just as quickly contemplate, how do they make war, wield power, and create friendships? We can learn lots about a leader in how she approaches conflict.

The Gospel shows us our conflict. It takes our earthly situation, enmity with God, and shows us God’s character. Colossians 1:19-20 is full of the Gospel.

In Colossians we see not only that Jesus is King of Creation, He is also King over the New Creation. And just as He is the creator of the stuff of earth, He is also the creator of the new creation. The new creation begins with the reconciliation of people into the communion of God through Christ Jesus and it will find its completion in the creation of a new heaven and earth. The church is the fruit of Jesus’ peace-making work at the Cross.

Taking on flesh, Jesus comes to humanity full of God in order to reconcile all of creation to Himself. This peace-making could only be done through his death on the cross, to give us redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness always costs. Jesus is the King of all Creation, and He is our peace. He gave Himself fully for our forgiveness and inclusion in His Kingdom.

All praise to Jesus, our peace!

Reconciliation

Key Verse ~ Reconciliation

Reconciliation is the death of hostility.

Between God and people Jesus did the work of making reconciliation a gift available to deal with the hostility of people toward God. Our enmity towards God has been dealt with from God’s perspective; Jesus is our peace.

Ephesians 2:12-16
12remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Between people reconciliation is the death of hostility. Getting there requires truth, an honest assessment of the reality of the relationship and the conditions that brought it to such disrepair, anger, and grief. Reconciliation cannot be hurried. It takes time. But it it also seems to me to require an alternate source for strength, courage, honesty, and forgiveness.