A lot is said about forgiveness and it is important. It brings freedom from bitterness, disappointment, hurt and can be the starting point to restored relationships. You see, forgiveness is something we do in ourselves. It is the release and pardon that we extend in our heart toward someone who has offended us. However, it does not mean the relationship is to be restored. That takes reconciliation or “the process of making consistent or compatible” once again. Reconciliation is about the restoration of relationship. In fact, if forgiveness is about making peace with the past, reconciliation is making plans for the future.
Reconciliation is the central them of the cross and a great gift in that through Jesus the curse is removed, the repentant are brought back into unity with God and reunion is made possible. It is the removal of hostility between God and humanity, but it makes harmony possible between human relationships as well. In moving from hostility to harmony let’s look at three relationships, two requirements and one step.
There are three relational planes that require reconciliation in life. The first one is the relationship between God and self. Sin separates us from walking with God and the cross is the bridge that brings us back to connection. In fact, Jesus proclaims the good news that God loves us and wants to be in relationship with us (See John 3:16).
The second relationship dynamic in need of reunion is person to person. Sin not only separates us from God, it separates us from each other. Bad behavior, opportunity for misunderstanding and fractured relationships abound. Restored relationships are important to God and he invites us to repair relational breeches as a precursor to worship. As Jesus states, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5: 23-24).
The third relationship to be reconciled is person with self. We must learn to forgive ourselves for the past and accept and love the person we are if we ever hope to have significant relationship with God and others.
To restore relationships, we first need a repentant heart. In other words, a change of mind and action. In fact, reconciliation is walking out repentance in the life of a Christ follower. The second requirement is a willingness to repay or make right the wrong. As stated before, forgiveness is an internal action, reconciliation is external reaction. To be in relationship we must be willing to rebuild trust and repay wrong done. This shows that we are serious about reuniting.
Like forgiveness, reconciliation is not something that will just happen. It takes effort and action. It requires stepping toward the relationship—whether it be God, another or self-with the intention of restoration. Healing of hearts and relationships are a step away. I encourage you, if you have a relationship in need of repair be the catalyst and take a step toward reconciliation. Forgive, apologize, listen and choose to love. Reconciliation is a gift with the potential to move us from hostility to harmony with God, self and others.
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