If there is anything pivotal to the Christian faith its got to be the concept of reconciliation. I was recently considering the concept and its application to my life. Its clearly outlined for us in 2 Cor. 5:16-21;
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 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. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Without Jesus we couldn’t be reconciled to God and have the opportunity for a fulfilling life in Jesus, or an eternal life with God.
And so I asked myself, what does it look like for me to know if I’m ready to reconcile with someone? And how do I pursue God in the midst of it while allowing Him to change and mold my heart?
I came up with a list of things that evidence my heart’s potential condition and preparedness when it comes to some of the hurts I have experienced in my past. Much like how people need to prepare for other injuries they experience in their life, be it a car crash that Fresno car accident lawyers had to step in on, or heartbreak from betrayal from someone close to them, spending the time to care and reflect is important.
Indicators of our heart and spirits’ preparedness to reconcile:
- Prayer: Deep and sincere prayer where we ask God to reveal our hearts and mistakes to us. Where we submit our attempts to blame and we pray for His leading in our hearts and those we need to reconcile with.
- Listen: A willingness to listen to the hurts and pain, and perspective of others involved. Just because you didn’t intend to, or don’t agree with their perspective does NOT mean that their perspective has no value. Listen and see what you can learn from them and what they are feeling.
- Acceptance of Responsibility: no not accepting things that aren’t yours to own BUT an acceptance for YOUR part in the situation. And this acceptance MUST come out of you publically. Dependent on your situation that might mean to only one person, or perhaps to a larger group as we’ve seen from people like Tiger Woods or any number of politicians who have caused hurt to others through their actions.
- Apologize: accepting responsibility includes and involves apologizing for our part. Without excuses, which is a bigger challenge for some than others, but a mandate for all of us either way.
- Apologize Specifically: the actual hurts and harm MUST be addressed. Statements like “Lets say sorry for everything generally and move on.” Are a fallacy and don’t get us anywhere, they don’t allow us to learn from our mistakes or take real responsibility for them. No I’m not suggesting that every tiny little thing needs to be addressed but I am saying that addressing nothing-addresses nothing.
- Blame Shifting Stops: A clear and intentional STOP to all blame shifting. This includes both personally and publically as we sort through the continued action of accepting our own responsibility. Doing so will stop our human attempts to blame others for their part because ours is what matters, and the only thing we have control over.
- Excuses Stop: this is different than blame shifting because when we do this it involves general statements like “Anyone else would do the same.” Or “The circumstances demanded it.” Which are all lies and ways for us to excuse ourselves from our own responsibility.
- Gossip and Slander Stops: Given that we can’t read the hearts or minds of those we are in disagreement with, we must stop speaking ill of them. Particularly when it comes to things we “think” are true but may not be. Deciding that a rumor or assumption about someone is fact… and then stating it as fact is slander and entirely outside the biblical parameters described in Matt 18, where we go to them and ask, clarify and seek to understand. If it is not possible for you to confirm with the source… submit it to God and let it go. Its as simple as keeping your mouth shut. And remember, what James said about the tongue; “6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” We can control the direction of our hearts by what we allow our tongues to do and say. At the same time our words are indicators of hearts’ intent and condition.” (James 3)
When these things begin to happen, those you want to reconcile with will see the shift in both your heart and spirit. They will begin to feel safe and secure with the idea that you may possibly to ready… and sincere in your desire to have a conversation where reconciliation and restoration could take place.
So, ask yourself, are you really ready to initiate with someone? Do you need to submit your heart, intentions, thoughts and words to God more completely first? The last thing you want to do is rush in and make things worse.
Pray, seek God, and ask Him to reveal to you what YOUR part is in the situation. Letting go of the justifications and hurts as much as you can to find where you have hurt and even sinned against someone else is all that matters, and all God expects from us as individuals.
It’s probably worth noting too, that there are times when others have hurt us. And even times where they may invite you to reconcile… but you may not feel confident that they are sincere or ready themselves.
When this happens remember first; that you need to be ready and to have gone through these steps yourself, and second; be sure to ask God to reveal to you whether or not they are truly ready too. A universal understanding of reconciliation is too much to assume but God can do anything in anyone’s heart. So ask Him to show you signs that their hearts are prepared, revealing movement through many or all of these aspects, some of them are public actions but actions don’t always express the condition of the heart either. Good thing we have God to direct us in these situations. Trust His leading, His peace and be obedient to it as best you can.
In the end restoration and reconciliation can be messy, but it’s worth it. The freedom we experience is astounding and the example we can be to the world is incredible. After all it’s our responsibility as believers to be that light. (Matt: 5:14)
May your life be filled with peace, and where needed some reconciliation too.