What is reconciliation? It can be found in a story:
Amy Biehl died a violent death in 1993. She was a 26-year-old Fulbright scholar who had gone to South Africa to help register black voters for their first free election. But even though she was seeking to help the people of South Africa, as she was driving one day, she was dragged out of her car, stabbed and beaten to death by a mob which was committed to violence in order to overthrow of the apartheid government. Soon afterward, Amy’s parents, Linda and Peter Biehl, quit their jobs and moved from their Orange County, California home to South Africa — not to seek revenge, but to start a foundation in Amy’s name. Today, two of her killers work for the foundation. They call Mrs. Biehl “Makhulu,” or grandmother, because of the way she treats them. She says, “Forgiving is looking at ourselves and saying, ‘I don’t want to go through life feeling hateful and revengeful, because that’s not going to do me any good.’ We took Amy’s lead. We did what we felt she would want.”
That is the picture of reconciliation. It not only forgives, it reaches out to restore. It pays back good for evil. It is following the heart and character of God. In 2nd Corinthians 5:18-19 it says, “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 men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation”.
Though we deserve nothing but death and eternal sorrow, God has made a way for us to be reconciled so that we might be held in glory. Though He has every right to be angry and vengeful, He gave us His only Son so that anger and revenge would no longer hold us captive.
In our world today, we see little evidence of any sort of reconciliation. Anger and hate have overruled discussion too often and we continue to feel as a society that the only way to find justice is to force it.
But that is not what we have been called to as children of God. Instead, we are to Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we have been reconciled, shall we be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10).
Yet we find reconciliation so hard because it involves forgiveness and forgetfulness. Anger and vengefulness are so much easier for us, they occur more naturally within us because of the sin that surrounds us. Forgiveness takes effort and dedication. It requires a laying down of arms, of harsh rhetoric and of hatefulness. Coming together again in peace is much more difficult for us then remaining divided by hate.
So, how do we overcome this obstacle? Only by the will and power of Christ. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, (Jesus) has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Colossians 1:21-23).
Through faith in Christ, our efforts toward reconciliation can overcome the obstacles the devil puts in our place. By remaining stable and steadfast, it is possible by the power of Christ to oversome our natural tendencies. By focusing on the hope of the Gospel we can remain steadfast in our commitment to God, strengthened by His promise of eternal life.
First be reconciled to God and then let Him provide you the strength and want to be reconciled to those who may have wronged you. Focus, as Christ did, on love and service rather than revenge and hatefulness. Live your life as Jesus lived His, always focused on better things to come. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, forgive us for those times that we have taken the easier route of hate, anger, and revenge. Help us to show the world the power of Your love. Lead us to a greater understanding of reconciliation and the power it holds. Amen.