It is no secret that many of the relationships in our world today are in desperate need of reconciliation. We have all heard the saying, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” If reconciliation is to occur there will be a cost…someone will have to pay to make it a reality. Reconciliation costs, but what will it cost, and are we willing to pay?
I have found myself thinking about such things for the past week. A friend of mine was writing about the current turmoil in our world and he used the phrase, “the cost of reconciliation” and God seared that phrase in my mind. I found myself thinking, wrestling with it while I was sitting still, driving to an appointment, or working around the house. It captured my soul and would not let me go.
What is the cost of Reconciliation?
First, in order for Reconciliation to be necessary a wrong has been committed and a relationship has been damaged or severed. We all have experienced this at some point in our lives. Words are spoken, actions taken and suddenly a relationship that was once healthy and life giving lies damaged in desperate need of repair. Too often the parties begin to dig in, hold to their opinions or version of events and what might have been a minor issue becomes a major divide. When we are hurting in the midst of situations like this it is not unusual for us to respond in two ways…
- We shut down, close off and refuse to talk about the issue with anyone…especially the other party. Reconciliation is impossible because communication is blocked.
- Sometimes we are open to reconciliation, but we demand the other party take the first step. We sit in our home, cubicle, classroom (you name it) and boldly declare, “I will reconcile when they come to me and apologize”.
We have all been there. Unfortunately the reality of damaged relationships is part of our human experience.
I want to contrast our reality with what we find within the scriptures. In thinking about the cost of reconciliation my mind was drawn to Philippians 2:1-11. In this passage we are encouraged to have the same mindset of Christ. We are reminded of his humility, his willingly moving towards those in need of reconciliation, of his offering himself as a sacrifice to reconcile humanity with God.
What is the cost of reconciliation?
Sin separates humanity from God…Reconciliation is required
Think with me for a moment…What does it mean when Jesus offers himself so that through faith in him reconciliation with God is possible?
- Jesus gives up his place in the trinity…his Father/Son/Holy Spirit relationship with God
There are times in our lives when we can say God feels close, very close, like we could simply reach out and touch Him. These are sacred and special times. Then there are those times when God feels distant. God has not changed, we have not lost faith, yet it feels as if God is far away and not present as we journey through life. We understand the difference between these two realities.
Jesus, who only knew true, deep communion with Abba Father gives that up for the sake of reconciliation.
- Abba Father gives up His Son. Over the last week I got to spend time with my son. Joseph came to visit and it was just the two of us for one week. We talked, shared, worked and enjoyed life together. I struggle to imagine willingly giving up my son for anything or anyone. Abba Father on the other hand gives up his Son for the sake of reconciliation.
- Jesus humbles himself, gives up all power all authority…gives it up to walk as a human being. You know those times you are traveling and there is nowhere to stay and you end up spending the night in one of those hotels/motels where you triple check the door to ensure it is locked? The kind of place where you think it might be safer to sleep on top of the comforter instead of upon the sheets? The Son of God humbles himself and is born in a stable. Humbles Himself and is open to experience life as we all do, all the pains, all the hurt, all the struggle…that is now His reality.
- Ultimately Jesus gives up his life. Nobody took it. He offered it…all so that reconciliation between God and man could take place. One of my favorite passages of scripture is when Jesus stands before Pilate. The leader of this world speaking with the King of all Kings. Jesus makes it clear, abundantly clear, that everything which is about to happen He is allowing to happen. He makes it clear that nobody, not even Pilate, is taking his life. His life is being offered up, by Himself, all for the sake of reconciliation.
- Abba Father stood silent as Jesus was arrested, beaten, mocked and crucified. He watched silently when He could have spoken a word and made it all stop. Yet for the sake of reconciliation time moved forward.
When Joseph was three or four I spent the night with him in the hospital. We thought he had a life changing illness. I was a wreck as he slept silently in his hospital bed. I would have done anything to take away his issue. If I could have taken it upon myself I would have gladly done so. Abba Father stood silent as His Son moved from Pilate to the guards to the cross and the tomb. The cost of reconciliation demanded that Abba stood silent. (Ultimately Joseph was found to be 100% healthy…I was thankful and joyful)
- Jesus endured total separation from God as he died, all for the sake of reconciliation. In Mark 15:34 Jesus is hanging on the cross, near death and cries out, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
So, what does Reconciliation Cost? Simply put it costs everything!
As men and women of faith we ought to be experts in reconciliation. Every time we gather round the communion table, joining with brothers and sisters in Christ to celebrate The Lord’s Supper we remember and celebrate reconciliation through Christ.
Too often our relationships reflect this world more than they do the example God sets before us.
Reconciliation is costly. Reconciliation demands we give of ourselves.
- We will have to sacrifice our rights.
- We will need to sacrifice our Pride and Move with Humility
- We must be willing to take the first step towards reconciliation rather than waiting for someone else to reach out to us.
The painful truth is that we will reach out the branch of reconciliation and be rebuffed…we will be mocked…we will be hurt. So be it. That is the cost of reconciliation.
Look at our world today. Why is there no peace, no reconciliation? We cling to and demand our rights to the point of doing damage to each other.
A wise friend of mine once asked me,
“Dan, what would it look like for you to move into this situation as a wounded lamb rather than a roaring lion?”
He knew that I was asserting my rights, protecting my pride and refusing to move towards someone with humility and grace. Reconciliation was impossible until I changed my posture. Once I began to move and act in a different way it was amazing how things were transformed and renewed…reconciliation became a reality in my life.
If we move that way we move like Jesus and we will experience moments of reconciliation. More than that, we will become agents of reconciliation in a hurting world.
In my heart of hearts I believe Jesus longs for us to daily pick up our cross, follow Him, and become agents of reconciliation in a hurting world. Reconciling people to God, and too each other.
“Thy Kingdom Come…Thy Will be Done”