As 2016 unfolds, the word “Reconciliation” is predominant on my heart. It seems to me that my country is becoming more divided and I wonder sometimes if I’ll wake up and find I live in the Divided States of America? Of course, we know how that looked in our history if we listen to our elders and read history books. It was ugly then; it’s ugly now.
As I’ve thought about Reconciliation, I’ve searched out God’s perspective on the subject:
“For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20, NLT)
From my Judeo-Christian viewpoint, this is an amazing concept! The One who was so greatly offended by his Creation – who abandoned and rejected Him – took the initiative to build the bridge and pave the way for Reconciliation. He didn’t wait for us to feel remorse, shame and seek forgiveness. He offered it freely and we choose whether to accept it … or not. The Offended sought peace with His offender. That speaks deeply to me and sets a high example to follow.
Most every hostility has roots beyond the current situation. We hold onto personal offenses over a lifetime or even take on the offenses of our ancestors and can become easily inflamed by perceived injustices (whether real or imagined) and then splash our hostility to every person who somehow resembles our offender – whether it’s their age, their socio-economic status, profession, gender or country of origin.
It’s time we do some real heart searching and root out any anger we find there. It’s time we grow some thick skin and tender hearts.
And, for those of us who claim to follow Jesus, it is our challenge to lead the way!
The first step we can take is to scan the gathering at our next worship service. Do we see much variety there? Does our demographic at least reflect that of our town and the intended geographic reach of our ministries? If it doesn’t, we must be willing to sit with our leaders and discuss how we can make necessary changes. Until we can model unity within our congregations, we have nothing to say to our neighbors or leaders outside the Church.
We need to get beyond “this is the way it’s always been,” and revisit our foundational commitment to live as Jesus. As brothers and sisters in faith, we need to agree to disagree on the minor points and lock arms with determination on our foundation in Christ.
When the Church leads the way – when those who claim to follow Jesus truly live as He did – then we can prove it’s possible, with God’s help! It is His idea, after all.
Unity begins with us. Let’s commit to make 2016 the Year of Reconciliation!
This article is due to be published on MyCentralJersey.com as well as in the Courier News / Home News Tribune on February 18, 2016.