Sunday 29 April – Reconciliation
Preacher today: Mike Ashburner
Readings: Psalm 63:1-5; 2 Cor. 5:16-21; Ephesians 2:11-22;Matthew.5:23-24
Introduction: Reconciliation is such a relative term today.
No-one can fully grasp its implications.
Anzac day just past – remembers the fallen ones but also the reconciliation that took place in times of peace.
The organized or commissioned reconciliation is a farce.
The obvious result only show wounds, but no healing.
We see it so evident in the futile attempts the law courts impose on victims and perpetrators.
The Church follows this line only too often.
Any forced or contrived reconciliation process is doomed to fail.
The Church – The Christian community does not truly practice reconciliation –
The results are shown so often in no healing of relationships.
The Altar/Table of Our Lord is supposed to be the central place of unity but is the place where bitter divisions are in existence between Christians.
St Paul records a stern warning of the communion participants – If coming to the table in the wrong spirit – we face terrible judgement – where some have become sick and even have died.
We need to heed the injunction of the scripture applicable to leaders and people alike:
1 Corinthians 11: 26-31
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.
This is one scary thought. One certain conclusion is:
THERE CAN BE NO REAL AND TRUE RECONCILIATION WITHOUT CHRIST.
Any other form of reconciliation either does not succeed or ultimately becomes Vengeful on those seeking it.
So what is Reconciliation?
A. Reconciliation is – Letting Go
This means getting rid of enmity and healing broken relationships.
It implies that persons concerned were previously hostile to one another and that alienation between them has been removed.
Holding a grudge – who suffer the most?
B. Reconciliation is costly
Before it can happen we have to face the problem.
Reconciliation is much more than saying: “Let’s forget about what divided us and be friends”.
Reconciliation is a sham as long as what created the division in the first place remains unchanged.
We have to apologize for what we have done; pay back what we have taken, and repair what is broken or put things right in some other way.
We cannot just ignore the problem or pretend it’s not there.
Whatever it costs to put things right is the price we must be prepared to pay.
Certainly when God acted to reconcile us to Him self it was a costly thing.
The Easter Cross reminds us how costly it was for Jesus.
C. Reconciliation is with God
Scripture tells us bluntly that sinners are enemies of God (Rom.5:10; Col.1:21).
An enemy is not someone who is merely a little unfriendly.
They are totally opposed to us.
In other words, because our sin, our separation from GOD is a radical one,
Like a deep chasm which we are not able to bridge.
However it is at this point of our helplessness that God has taken the initiative and opened a new way of love for us through the cross.
Although we don’t deserve it, we can come back to Him and have Fellowship with Him.
It is here that the Christian Gospel stands in radical contrast to other faiths.
No other religion in the world preaches the sheer grace of God in this way.
D. Reconciliation is with others
The amazing attitude of God in reconciling us with Himself must be reflected in new attitudes to others.
Our behaviours need to change.
Our new relationship with God must in turn transform our relationships with others.
We need to forgive – To love our enemies as Jesus said – To seek reconciliation with those from whom we have been estranged.
It means fighting a “war of love” against things like hatred selfishness and revenge.
In Christ all the barriers which separated us from others must be destroyed.
Things like racial prejudice – Class distinction – Sex or social status and any other barrier –
They have no place in the kingdom of God.
If we continue to hold onto them, then we have no place in the kingdom of God.
We who have been reconciled to God must also share in God’s work of bringing reconciliation to the world.
Our wholeness in Christ must be clearly seen in the community life of the Church so the world may believe that what we preach is true (John.17:20-23).
The world needs love and community where people are patent and tolerant of each other – The Christian Church is the world’s only hope.
From this God is calling us to do something about it.
Is there someone towards whom you have bad feelings?
Someone you find hard to forgive or who you have a grudge against
A relationship that has gone sour.
Make a sincere attempt this week to be reconciled to that person and restore your relationship. (Mt 5 23-24)
Pray about it before you do any thing.
Maybe you have tried before and been unsuccessful.
Try again for Jesus sake – for your sake – and yes for the sake of the desperately lost world.