In the Ideal Family series, we have talked about how we don’t live in the ideal world, we live in the real world. Family life is difficult. Stresses come from all directions, and families are made up of flawed individuals. Shall we give way to despair and simply not care, or is there hope? A study of Biblical families shows us that family life has always been difficult. The hope for families comes from understanding that the power of God works to resolve problems, heal broken relationships, and reconcile persons in conflict. God’s standard is for us to pursue reconciliation in our lives.
Something To Talk About:
It is not too uncommon to throw up your hands and say, “I don’t care.” “My spouse has been selfish for a long time…I don’t know why he is so angry all the time…there is something in her wiring that makes her impossible to like. Since that is the case, I stopped caring. I’ve moved on…” We may sound convincing and in some cases we may convince ourselves temporarily, but the reality is we do care. We say we don’t care because we want to protect ourselves or because we don’t want to deal with the emotions of it. But, we do care. God created us to care. If we are a follower of Jesus, we should care. There is no room for those who follow Jesus not to care.
- Through Christ God removed every obstacle to reconciling with us except for us. The only obstacle to you being reconciled to God is you. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Paul is explaining to the Corinthians why he lives like he does. He opens his heart to them and says that the reason he lives a life that many would regard as extreme or even mad is that the love of Christ “compels” him. It compels him, he says, because he has become convinced of a certain truth. He is convinced that one has died for all. Through Christ, God has removed every obstacle to reconcile with us except us. The only obstacle between you and God is you because of what Jesus did. God set the table, opened the door, sent you an invitation. All we have to do is open the door and walk in. This includes reconciliation with others. We often wait for the other person to make the first move. It is always our move. It doesn’t matter “who started it:” God always holds us responsible to reach out to repair a tattered relationship. A Christian is responsible to begin the process of reconciliation, regardless of how the problem or situation came about.
- Reconciliation or contradiction: You can be reconciled to God In spite of your sin: Paul says, “Now God gives us the ministry of reconciliation.” In other words, if you are a Jesus follower, your life, your words, your behavior are to reflect God. It’s not a suggestion; Christ’s love compels us. You can be reconciled with God in spite of your decisions, in spite of knowing you would hurt people, and in spite of your sin. We’re not in Christ because we deserve it, we are in Christ in spite of the fact that we don’t. In Jesus, God doesn’t count our sins against us. But you can’t be reconciled to me because of your sin. In other words, we are willing to tell that family member we don’t care about anymore that they can be reconciled to God in spite of their sin. But, you can’t be reconciled to me because of your sin. You can be reconciled to God; but you can’t be reconciled to me. I have standards, don’t you see. And my standards are higher than God’s standards. So go ahead; be reconciled to God, and God may forgive you but I won’t. God will accept you in spite of what you’ve done, but I won’t accept you because of what you’ve done to me. You see the problem. That kind of thinking is not an option. But wait a minute, I don’t want to be reconciled to you because of what you did to me years ago. The reason I want to write you off is because of what you didn’t do. The reason I don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore, the reason I don’t care anymore, is because of what you said to me sometime ago. And God says, Christ’s love compels us to come over to His standard, to come over to “in spite of.” God give us – you and me as Jesus followers – the ministry of reconciliation no matter what our reasons are. They are supposed to see God in us in spite of us.
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-20: What is this passage about? Please re-tell it in your own words.
- What does reconciliation mean to you? Do you see the Bible as a a story of reconciliation? Why or why not?
- How did Jesus bring peace between people?
- One of the most difficult things in all the world is to try to bring two people together who are at odds with one another and are unwilling to work it out. Have you ever experienced this scenario? What were the circumstances and outcomes?
- God uses people whom He has reconciled to become reconcilers. Do you see yourself as a reconciler? Why or why not?
- God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. What does this mean on a practical level?
- What steps can we take this week to become reconcilers?
Take One Thing Home with You
C. S. Lewis writing on the subject of forgiveness said: “. . . you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out. The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.”
We all can come up with some reasons, or excuses for our failure to reconcile with others. There may, indeed, be some truth to the excuses. But God still expects us to reconcile. For example, there are people who believe that inter family conflict has nothing to do with my Christianity. That excuse reveals basic misunderstanding of what following Jesus is all about. Truly following Jesus requires that we make changes in all aspects of life, not just in our behavior on Sunday morning. Everything has something to do with our Christianity and that includes family conflict.
Or maybe the excuse is “I wouldn’t even know how to start.” Or I’m afraid if “I try to reconcile it will look like I’m condoning what they did. It will look like I’m condoning their sin.” Or, “well, it’s not going to work!” Or “I simply don’t care.” Jesus did the uncomfortable by coming to earth to die for each of us. He is asking us to do the uncomfortable for Him. So, if God is nudging you to give someone in your family the same grace He has given you, listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Move beyond forgiveness to reconciliation with one another.