We are in the next to last Sunday of my series on God’s love and its impact on our lives. Next week, I will bring you my column just prior to Good Friday and Easter. Today I want to talk to you about reconciling broken relationships and I am talking not only about our relationship with God but with each other, because they are connected.
All people are in relationships. And because of that, everyone is susceptible to broken relationships. It is a problem, a big one. It is a problem in many ways and in particular with the fact that God does not want nor desire them. There are broken relationships in families, churches, businesses, children and parents, husbands and wives and in dating relationships. There are multitudes of reasons for them, most are for frivolous reasons to be frank. Many involve misunderstandings, pride, jealousy, selfishness but many, many, and I know this first hand, where people are accused by another party of doing, believing, or saying things they simply do not do. I have struggled myself from being told what I believe or do not, what I think but don’t or what I have done and did not and yet not believed and suffered loss and pain because for all I tried I could not get through. Many relationships break now a days because we have a tendency to psychoanalyze everyone and attach a label to everyone in some way which is harmful and pretty much inaccurate. It is, like the other stuff, things that end relationships in all the above things that can be fruitful and God blessed. The good news in all of this is that there is not one relationship of any kind that cannot be healed and restored because God is in the restoration business and that includes broken relationships people have with Him.
If people followed the simple principles of reconciliation there would be less divorces, more unbroken engagements, more children flourishing, more successful businesses, etc.
Colossians chapter 1, 19-23 outlines that principle. Paul was dealing with people there where there were divisions and he spoke of reconsiliation and God’s desire for it with Him and each other. He mentions that all humanity, through Adam and Eve’s fall and SIN are at enmity and hostile to God but that through the love and intervention of God and Jesus going to the Cross, we can have with God and each other reconciliation..
Three questions come to mind: 1. What is reconcilitation? It is a reaching out to bring back into relationship that that is broken and ruptured and fallen. It is a mending. It is a renewed sense of oneness and a positive, peaceful relationship with no more hostility which is replaced by harmony. It is where couples and marriages and relationships with couples are healed, where children are one with parents again, where churches work together. It is a restoring of position.
Secondly, who needs reconciliation? We all do. Many of us do with each other but all of us do to God. Jesus brought it because sin, which is in all of us since the fall, separates us from God. We are in a state of rebellion. You do not need to teach a small child to break principles or do wrong things. We all have that in us. It is sin that breeds disobedience and rebellion. It alienates us from a Holy God. But Paul made it clear that that is why God, in His love provided the answer in Jesus. When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior we are Born again and His love reconditions us.
We do not do it, we do not reach up to Him but He reaches down in His love to us and offers us grace and forgiveness. He reaches to us and we respond and our brought back into relationship with Him. We can, and I stress this, all be reconciled to God no matter what we have done and to each other through Him and love. But to do that with each other we need to let God’s love permeate our whole being. We need to lay aside the blaming, the finger pointing, the looking for bad and the name calling and labeling etc, etc. Too many may coexist but they are alienated from each other. You can be under the same roof, in the same bed and still need reconciliation. Anger and blaming creates division and gives the devil a foothold and gives way to destructive deeds. It hurts and when too often when one is hurt they try to hurt the other party more. Satan loves that. God does not and none of it is necessary.
The same thing happens when people are angry with God or hostile to Him or even deny Him. The problem with all of that is SIN. There is always suffering with sin to each other and to God. We suffer when we are alienated with God and each other. The Bible even tells us that all creation suffers because of man’s alienation from God and groans to be restored which one day will happen on Christ’s return. When we sin against God and each other there is suffering. We need to make a commitment and a recommitment quite often to be right before God, even for Him to answer our prayers. Satan relishes our divisions.
And with suffering, there is guilt and with guilt there is separation. Sin is at the root of all of this and it is sin we do not often thing of that causes this alienation and division and trouble in relationships. It is selfishness and pride that wants everything their way at the expense of everything else, and self centeredness and name calling and labeling and judging others. Insecurities and recriminations and an unforgiving spirit all lead to divisions and our missing out on the joys God offers us. Do you get angry when I even bring that up? And when we do this we miss God’s blessings with each other and God. How many children suffer because prideful parents never try to reconcile because of pride? How many couples miss out on a fruitful marriage later because pride gets in the way? How many churches split because one group won’t let go of something so trivial that they would rather kill the church? Those things and others drive people away from us. They no longer can reason with us and feel frustrated . It goes back to what I said earlier from the Bible. God brings reconciliation and we all need it. His love provides the way.
We can be reconciled to God and each other through Christ. He offers us that because as Colossians says, of His good pleasure, His love, and FOR OUR OWN GOOD. God offers us through the blood and the cross and Christ the hope and promise of reconciliation. He paid our sin debt. It His amazing love and GRACE that offers us a reconciliation and salvation with Him and each other. It is through Him that we can have peace with God and each other. It is the hope of the Gospel.
So… who do you feel alienated from? Is there a wall? Are you upset , have you built up then a case against someone for what they have thought they have done to you? The Bible says that the believer, if you are one, should take the initiative. the “one who feels offended.” Did not Jesus take the initiative to reconcile us to God?
Are you willing, if it matters, to suffer some criticism, some negative blame, some accusations from others to reach out to that person you are alienated from in order to reconcile? Jesus was maligned greatly for doing just that but then He saw worth in all of us and saw potential in all of us. He took the initiative. That is real love.
Thirdly, if you feel you are the offended one, are you willing to die to self to pride and ambition and hindrances to reconciliation in your own being.?All reconciliation requires the death of something in us. If you want reconciled to someone you care about or love in any capacity, is it worth it to have that person back in harmony with you, to move forward? Can you die to self a little? God did. Jesus, God‘s Son went to the agony of the Cross for us, He died for us. He suffered eternal separation from the Father for us.
Fourthly, are you willing to change your attitude even though you are offended? I know, why should you change? You will have lasting impact on the other person if you do. Can you see them through God’s eyes instead of your own? Beating someone over the head does nothing good. Can you reach out unconditionally to that alienated party with forgiving love, can you walk in their shoes for a moment and perhaps see the way they see things? Jesus did that for us. God became a man to do just that and His love is unconditional. He believed we were worth dying for.
What really needs healed in your life? Are you missing out because you are estranged from God? Are you estranged from someone else? Either way, you are missing out on God’s blessings. He offers us reconciliation in all capacities. There is no reason, no problem, no split that can not be fixed in and through Him, if love is applied. His love shows the way. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, maybe again and again. He was. In any relationship in business, church, marriage, dating, anything… God’s love and the Blood of Christ can bring healing, can bring miracles, can and does bring blessing. Division can, with Him and a willingness to get ourselves off the throne of our lives and let Him be there brings healing and additions, not subtractions.
It is the message of Hope and Love in God’s love that gives us more than we deserve or could ever hope for, in Him and in each other. These are not just my words, they are the words from the Bible and from every decent Christian theologian who ever lived and does now. We can be reconciled to God and each other. Let it happen in your life.Next week, Holy Week, the last of our series.