For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:20-21
I have come to believe that our refusal to be reconciled is the sin of our day.
Let me explain. The apostle Paul makes it abundantly clear in numerous letters that God is in the business of reconciliation. God wants a renewed relationship with every person (and if I read the verse above correctly, every thing). God sends Jesus to save us from our sin, but not just so we can stand around sinless. Rather, God is after a restoration of lost relationship between Him and us. This is the good news we celebrate at church: God loves us enough to bury the hatchet!
And we do celebrate it. We talk about how good God is. We sing songs about His overwhelming love and amazing grace. We proclaim Christ as not only our saviour, but our friend and brother. We pray to God as Abba, Father. We marvel at the mystery that God would choose through the Holy Spirit to come live inside us.
These days church talk is all intimacy, indwelling, love, grace and family. It is wonderful.
And yet, we can’t get along with each other.
Yes, God is at work reconciling us to Himself. But too often this renewed relationship doesn’t expand beyond me and God.
I recently overheard a conversation where the wonderful loving nature of God was boldly proclaimed. Then moments later came the most bitter vitriol directed at an ex-spouse. All from the same mouth.
And just look at what we say about others on Facebook. The way we describe churches that are too liberal or too conservative or too fundamentalist. And that is how we talk about strangers! It doesn’t even touch how we sometimes deal with those close to us. Yes, we have truly mastered the art of finding the speck in other’s eyes.
If we are being reconciled to God, being made new, then so are all our relationships. The other person may not even know it, but we do! Our reconciliation with God should directly reflect in how we treat and talk about others. When we allow our personal feelings to become bigger than God’s attempt at reconciliation, we put ourselves at odds with God’s will.
I am not saying we should pretend to agree. I am not calling for a “compromising” of our values. But if someone is a follower of Christ, then you have been reconciled to them. We don’t get to choose who God renews relationship with. When God reaches out and brings one of His children home, the other children don’t get a vote. We may not like their politics, their particular view of certain scriptures, or their theory of atonement. So be it. Our first job is to be reconciled. Then, if we have time, we can work out our disagreements.
So, I don’t see eye to eye with you. Well, I refuse to let our disagreement push me beyond the bounds of God’s ministry of reconciliation. I will not trash you or your opinion on Facebook. I will not call you or people who think like you names. I will not disparage your ideas as stupid, moronic, liberal, conservative, socialist, or whatever else I think is a putdown. I will not focus on our differences.
And I will do everything in my power to see Christ at work in you. I will strive with all my being to allow the fruit of the Spirit to guide me in every aspect of our relationship. I will view you as made in the image of God, and made new by the love of Christ. I will continually call you brother, sister, friend, fellow disciple, and child of God. I will listen to your ideas and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to me through you. I will focus on our oneness in Christ.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is something we too often forget. The distance between God and I was so big. Yet He bridged that gap. The distance between you and me is miniscule by comparison. Why do I feel the need to make it bigger?