Tag Archives: Reconciliation

At Van

Reconciliation on Wheels

Reconciliation (noun) /ˌrek.ənˌsɪl.iˈeɪ.ʃən/:The process of making two opposite beliefs, ideas or situations agree.

(A three-minute read – part of a year-long series on the Ministry of Reconciliation)

There’s an Art Van in my neighborhood. You know about Art Cars, right? The ‘Cartist’ will modify the vehicle in a unique artistic way. To inform, entertain or for personal expression.

My local art car represents Reconciliation on Wheels. The owner may not have conceived of it that way, but it’s there. Can you see it in the VanRogue rules below?

ArtVan instructions

Taggers may consider themselves free to make art wherever they wish: on private buildings, rights of way, bridge abutments or postal boxes. But they also need to be responsible for defacing property.

ArtVan gives them a safe place to ply their trade and be artists – without being vandals.

Can you dig it? The vehicle is sacrificed as a canvas so other private property can be respected.

Art Van

I can be an artist without being a criminal.

Art Van

Graffiti is seen as a £100 million challenge here in London.

Art Van

So – this is one small step for a van, one giant leap…

Art Van

In the end, artists just want to be loved.

Art Van

Don’t they?

Reconciliation is always present. We just need to look closely.

Hands

Coming Together

(A six minute read – part of a year-long series on the Ministry of Reconciliation)

Reconciliation (noun) /ˌrek.ənˌsɪl.iˈeɪ.ʃən/: The process of making two opposite beliefs, ideas or situations agree.

It’s easy to pass this word off as only relevant for person-to-person conflict. Something done after a war, or a genocide, or when a business partnership goes bad. Perhaps it’s a January response to that ugly political discussion at the holiday dinner table.

Reconciliation is much more

Reconciliation is much, much bigger than that. It’s about charting new courses for ourselves. It’s about listening to one another. It’s about being willing to reserve judgment. It’s about wanting to be nice. It’s about healing. Ultimately, its about forgiveness. More on that in a moment.

The Bible says that, as a Christian, I’ve been given the ‘ministry of reconciliation.’ What is that? It means my purpose here is to bring love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control into all I do. Those are the tools in my tool-kit for building reconciliation among estranged parties.

The Biblical word for reconciliation in the Greek is katallagē (καταλλαγή), which means restoration to favor.

It comes from the root word katallassō (καταλλάσσω), which means to change mutually.

See the connection? Mutual change is an adjustment you and I make through compromise. It comes through listening and reserving judgment until we can both change. Only then, can we again favor one another.

What’s that about forgiveness?

If I’m in dispute with you I can’t reconcile with you until I forgive you. Forgive you for being a jerk. For having wrong ideas. For disagreeing with me. For whatever is on my list that gives me the self-righteous excuse to push you away, to stop listening, to stop caring about you.

Only through forgiveness can I become willing to return (repent) to a state of right relationship with you. Only then can I reconcile. Assuming you too are willing, of course. You just might have your own list and be enjoying the fruits of your own anger.

If that’s the case: Houston, we have a problem.

Easily dealt with

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution. Love. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s one of the tools in that tool-kit, remember?

Last week, I wrote about my friend Brian, who met love in the midst of a group of young people who talked him out of suicide. God’s love, expressed through them, radically changed his life.

That love reconciled Brian to God, from whom he’d been estranged his entire life. It also reconciled him to other people, whom he’d been blaming for his troubles. Finally, it reconciled him to himself.

He was living one way, met love, and now lives another.

I’m not saying that love without God in it can’t lead to some level of reconciliation. It can. But I don’t believe it transforms us, and it’s much harder for it to last. Reconciliation is God language. We can borrow it, but if He’s not in it, it’s not as powerful as when He is. His involvement gives it a capital letter, as it were.

Reconciliation happens everywhere

God is always all-in. He does nothing by half measures. If God is love, then He is always love, and is love all the time. He is not arbitrary. Sure, it’s easy to ask amid a pandemic, ‘Oh yeah? So where’s God in this?’

That’s a great question. In fact, that’s the right question. Because God always comes into evil situations – whether created by the devil directly, or by my own sin. When I look for Him – I can find a path to reconciliation.

God showed up in our neighborhood as Jesus Christ, to reconcile the world to Himself, no longer counting our sins against us – if we believe in Him.1 It’s pretty simple, really.

So He continues: reconciling all of creation to Himself. It’s happening all the time everywhere, whether we can see it or not.

Of course, we can work against it. If I come up and hit you in the nose, that’s not what you’d call a reconciling gesture. However, even in that stupid act and its aftermath, there is an opportunity for reconciliation to begin.

Physically, it’s obvious: the blood clots and then soon stops flowing; in a short time the pain and swelling recede; damaged tissue repairs itself; not too long after, it’s as though nothing happened.

On a heart level it’s a different matter. If I’m not willing to apologize profusely (and probably, have a pretty good excuse that you’ll accept!) you won’t begin to think about forgiving me. Thus, I stop that omnipresent reconciliation in its tracks. Or, if you think I’m offering a bogus excuse, or are insincere, you may also call a halt to the healing.

See? Even when it doesn’t happen, it’s still available. The potential remains. We just have to grab it, and it becomes real.

Looking ahead

Hang on to this idea that reconciliation is happening all the time, everywhere. Because we’ll explore that in the coming weeks. And I think you’ll be surprised to find out that it shows up in some seemingly unlikely places.

1. 2 Corinthians 5:19-21 (NLT) ‘For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.’

Definition courtesy of Cambridge Dictionary

Read the entire series
Unity

A Year For Reconciliation

(A five minute read – part of a year-long series on the Ministry of Reconciliation)

Reconciliation (noun) /ˌrek.ənˌsɪl.iˈeɪ.ʃən/:The process of making two opposite beliefs, ideas or situations agree

I wrote last week that I see 2021 as the Year of Reconciliation. This comes in part because of the message in John 20:21, where Jesus says, ‘As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you.’ He then breathes on his disciples and says, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven them. If you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.’

There’s a lot to examine and discuss in this little scene, and that will be a continuing topic of the writing here in 2021.

Reconciliation, that is, bringing together two parties who have been estranged from one another, leads to peace.

We talked about the 14th century English cleric John Wycliffe, who was branded a heretic for translating the Latin Vulgate bible into English. Wycliffe believed knowing the Gospel was sufficient for Christian conduct. He bristled against additional rules and traditions the church had invented to ‘govern men’s conduct.’

Wycliffe’s English translation reconciled the people of his nation back to the Gospel after generations of separation.

The apostle Paul used the phrase ‘ministry of reconciliation’ in his second letter to the Corinthian church. God, he said, ‘has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them,’ 1

He goes on to say that as we grow in Christ’s likeness, we are to do the same.

Wycliffe’s Accomplishment

Like any good martyr, John Wycliffe is remembered for the things he did to tick off the people in power. He was excommunicated post mortem, which seems like a ridiculous thing. Sort of like sending a hate letter to someone whose address you’ve lost. Full of sound and fury and signifying nothing of an eternal nature (to uplift Shakespeare).2

Some historical context helps

Wycliffe’s world was one where the church had power over all of western civilization – even over kings. The Black Death had ravaged Europe – killing perhaps 200 million people. The church was powerless to stop it, which caused many people to begin questioning the church’s power. People hungered to know the Gospel for themselves.

Wycliffe was declared a heretic and the church threatened anyone who read the Scriptures in English. It burned those translations, when found. Like the destruction of Wycliffe’s body, these were small fires that lasted a short time. But the tinder for a fire of revival was placed and the wood was made ready as a result.

The forbidden fruit is always attractive. Church leaders forgot that truth from their own Bible.

Now, Some Biblical Context

Paul’s idea of reconciliation may come from the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus teaches about anger, and how corrosive it is. He says if ‘you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you’ leave the gift and go make up.3 Reconciliation must come before acceptable worship is possible.

If I understand Jesus as a God of relationships (as opposed to rule-following) then this business of unresolved conflict is mortally grave because it leaves me separated from God.

I must practice reconciliation immediately and completely. Otherwise, I carry the baggage of unresolved conflict, which causes long-term harm to my relationships.

In his ‘Studies in the Sermon on the Mount’, Oswald Chambers teaches that when I properly approach God in worship, Holy Spirit will remind me of any outstanding grievance I have. Chambers says it’s my duty to listen, listen well, and respond immediately and in full, with no reservations. As he put it: ‘Watch the thing that makes you snort morally….unless you are willing to yield your right to yourself…you need not pray any more’. 4

My self-righteousness (where I decide I won’t apologize because I was right and you were wrong) crowds out Jesus’ righteousness. It leaves my heart cold and unforgiving. Chambers refers to it as giving up my right to myself. That’s what I was supposed to have done when I gave my life to Christ, so I’ve no right to take it back.

I confess to doing this way too often.

So, Now What?

We have veered well away from the story of John Wycliffe, but his example was only a point of departure, after all. More important is that we’ve begun exploring the long history of God’s plan to reconcile this broken world and its people to Himself.

I’m glad you are here on this road with me.

1. 2 Corinthians 5:18
2. The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act 5, Scene V
‘She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.’
3. Matthew 5:23-24
4. Oswald Chambers, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, pp 32-33. Discovery House Publishers, © 1995, Oswald Chambers Association Limited. (Used with permission)