Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. ~ 2nd Corinthians 5:17-19
Once Thanksgiving hits, there are an endless variety of advertisements depicting the same heartwarming scene of friends and family gathering together for a warm and fuzzy time of celebrating. I’m not going to lie. It always creates a tad bit of cynicism inside. It is such a stark contrast; moment I’m witnessing on a commercial compared to what many of our personal experiences are like when it comes to getting together with our family. For many of us, this time of year is more like salt to an open wound as opposed to warm and fuzzy. Some of us, instead of heartwarming, our holidays can end up more like Jerry Springer moments. Some of us may not quite have that kind of drama on the outside, but inside there is enough tension in one room to cut into the toughest of turkeys. Marriages are on the brink of divorce. Many are already split. One family member isn’t talking to another. Secret gossip sessions happen behind closed doors in order to ‘vent’.
If any of what I just described rings true for you, then know that you’re not alone. There are many of us ,even in Christian families, who struggle with unity and harmony. This is why I’m writing. To encourage you with some things that God has taught me through these experiences. Also, there is a little “suck it up, buttercup” in this message, but trust me, God equips us with what we need to be obedient. However, we cannot skirt around the fact that God calls us to reconciliation.
1. Reconciliation is messy and that’s ok.
Messiness doesn’t mean that reconciling isn’t going to work. Think about the circumstances under which Christ was born in order that we may be reconciled to God.
2. Making the first move is not beneath us.
If God didn’t have a grand purpose and design for His creation, He wouldn’t have stepped down on this Earth to meet us where we are at. He walked out of His perfect world to live in our imperfect world of brokenness. He gave up His right to Himself. What makes us think that we shouldn’t have to? He stepped out of perfect glory to dwell in our dirty humanity…. for our sakes. Keep this in mind when you feel like you shouldn’t be the one to have to go beneath yourself to make the first move towards forgiveness and reconciling with your neighbor.
3. He knows we are made of dust.
During one particular drive to a gathering, I was feeling the dread of having to be in the presence of someone who I did not want to be around. I tried to forgive, but the hurt was deep and being around that person made me feel vulnerable and extremely uncomfortable. I was fully aware at that moment that I did not have what it took to be forgiving and gracious. As I drove, I began asking God to give me the grace to extend to this person. His reply was immediate. “You’re correct in asking for grace for this person. Just as I have shown grace to you, you are to show grace to her. The grace that I have shown you, you will be filled with it and it is that same grace that you will be able to pour out to her.” You know what? He did just that. I didn’t “feel” grace immediately, but He met me right at the door with it and I was able to spend the day with her in peace, comfort, and most importantly forgiveness for her. I can’t tell you how many times since then that God has helped me with this in other situations and people.
4. Protect one another.
I’m not talking about enabling. There is a difference. Enabling means that you sweep certain issues under the rug and make excuses for a person’s issues or wrong behavior in an attempt to avoid conflict. Protection means that the issue isn’t avoided, but handled with extreme care. In other words, pray for discernment and wisdom as well as opportunities to address certain issues for the sake of the person. Protection is not airing out your beefs with that person to people who have no business knowing or dealing with that person passive aggressively on Facebook. I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk about it. I’m saying that find a pastor, Christian counselor, or mature Godly friend who knows how to keep conversation within healthy boundaries. More importantly, that person should have the right to be the first person to hear the issue from you not from another person. This only creates a larger chasm between you if you don’t. This should be approached with compassion and grace. (See # 3 above)
5. With reconciliation, God is the only Winner.
Sometimes sides are drawn. This makes me sad. It must be to God as well. To see His children born of the same family and of the same faith not demonstrate love, patience, and kindness to each other as they would to someone at church or out in the world. It is not a matter of who is right or wrong, because in the end, it is only God who is perfect and just. When we reconcile with each other, it will point to God’s perfection and justice not our own.
6. Know Who You Are.
Meaning, remind yourself and gain confidence in that YOU are a child of God. You come from royalty. If they are believers as well, so are they. I find that when we realize and finally come into security of who we are in Christ, it is much easier to not only stand on that before others, but to also extend that same grace and mercy that God bestows on us as His children.
This post could go on and on. There is so much more to reconciliation that I could write about. If you were to get anything out of this post, it would be that reconciliation is a must for those who call themselves children of God. It requires humility. It requires trust that God is with us. It requires patience. This is still a walk for me. However, I will say that God has been faithful. I’ve witnessed first hand His healing touch on not only myself, but the family around me. I can tell you of times where I could’ve written certain people off, but are now building a loving relationship with. I would also wish for you to get out of this post a comforting knowledge that you are not alone. No family is perfect and many of us come from dysfunction of varying degrees. Remain in hope. Trust in God’s power and will to reconcile us to not just Himself, but to each other.Remind yourself of the blessings that He has already poured out on you.
Have a wonderful Christmas