Transformed by . . . . . Reconciliation
October 11, 2018
The practice or virtue of reconciliation has ALWAYS been at the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
[2 Cor 5:19]
That is not new. But, what we have before us is an urgent need for and a radical call to reconciliation because of the hatred, polarization, partisanship and anger that seems to be bubbling up in the world on every level in our current age. We are not the first generation to feel tension between allegiance to party, class, race or clan and allegiance to God and God’s Kingdom and Values. But, the tension seems much clearer to me now than it was 20 years ago.
I both fear and believe that into just this era, we have been called to live, model and work for reconciliation in the world. This does not come naturally to us, and it is not easy work.
Practices that seem to me to support the work of reconciliation seem to me to be
- establishing and abiding by fair conflict practices,
- balancing our ministries of mercy (giving to those in need) with ministries of justice (working to change the realities that keep people in need),
- refusing to allow ourselves or anyone else to confuse our partial opinions with God’s Word or Will, and
- cultivating an ability to see the image of God in every human being so that we refuse to assume that “the stranger” is always an enemy,
- Honest self-evaluation that sees, names and takes responsibility for our own sin and imperfection.
- Learning to listen and becoming more willing to “sit with” those who suffer and who are angry.
Of all the virtues on which we have chosen to focus attention this year, reconciliation is perhaps the most dangerous and the most difficult. But, in a way that was not clear to me 20 years ago, the call to do the work of reconciliation feels more urgent and more central to the core message of the Gospel. If it really is true that in Christ God was busy reconciling the world to God’s own self, and that now we are entrusted with continuing that work of reconciliation, we have a lot to learn and to practice. How can we practice reconciliation on every level – with ourselves – with our families – with our friends – with our enemies – with those who mean us harm? Ultimately we will either be reconciled, or we will be lost. How can we do what God has called us to do?
Ellen Fowler Skidmore