Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beyond Forgiveness…Reconciliation

Relationships are tricky and delicate because they involve emotions. Reconciliation is a lot harder than it seems it would be. So, what does that mean in the life of the believer?
  1. Reconciliation has a beautiful and significant meaning for those who have come to know Christ personally. 
  2. Anyone who calls to mind what they were [becoming] prior to experiencing God’s grace will joyfully celebrate and praise God for His transforming work of redemption. 
For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach– Colossians 1:19-22
We pass by the word “reconcile” in scripture frequently without true understanding of its significance and cost. Without relationship with God there is no blessing.
Before we can understand what God has done, it will be easier to understand reconciliation in personal relationships.

“An important part of any chance at reconciliation is that one or both of the parties must seek forgiveness for the wrong. But is forgiveness enough to restore a relationship? Some would say, ‘I said I was sorry! Isn’t that enough?!’”

Can you have forgiveness without reconciliation?
  • Yes, but it is important to know that forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. 
  • Forgiveness is for releasing from blame, but not responsibility.
  • Reconciliation, on the other hand, is built out of forgiveness, and serves to start afresh, in spite what has happened in the past.
  • You can forgive without reconciling, but it is impossible to fully reconcile without forgiving. 
If I can’t forget, how can I forgive?
  • Forgetting is not a single act but an attitude and perspective you take to cover a fault. 
What does reconciliation look like?
  • It is moving beyond forgiveness and serves as the pathway to reach restoration.
  • Reconciling doesn’t mean going back to the way things were. It means starting fresh.
How long can it take for reconciliation to occur?
  • Reconciliation is a process. It is not an instant occurrence.
  • You cannot expect to be completely restored after one night, especially if the offense or failure has occurred over a long period of time. 
  • Don’t try to settle hard feelings in a single communication. It is a process requiring learning new ways to communicate.
What are some attitudes that stand in the way of reconciliation?

A Lack of Repentance
  • There is no beginning to the process of reconciliation until there is repentance.
A Lack of Forgiveness
  • In order to forgive, we have to understand what forgiveness is not:
    • Forgiveness is not condoning the behavior.
    • We are not saying accept the sin. Unhealthy behaviors must change and clear lines of tolerance must be drawn. Boundaries need to be set to facilitate reconciliation.
    • Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened.
    • Forgiveness is not automatically restoring trust in a person. It must be earned over time which is why reconciliation does not happen quickly.
    • Forgiveness is not doing a person a favor. 
    • Forgiveness is not automatically returning to the previous level of intimacy.
A Lack of Humility
  • Pride is the source of all sin. It causes us to ignore our role in the relationship.
    • The danger of pride is seldom recognized as a problem for the one hurt but it is. (Statements such as “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I want them to fix my pain” could lead us down a path to where the issue becomes more about fixing “me” than about healing the relationship.)
  • Our failures to deal with our own sin 
There Are A Series of Fears That Also Stand in the Way of Reconciliation
  • Fear of losing the energy that anger produces
    • Anger produces energy. Anger, unchecked, leads to resentment. It makes us feel as if we have the power over whoever offended us.
  • Fear of losing leverage in a relationship 
    • We fear that by reconciling, we lose our leverage to dictate what we expect in the relationship. To leverage the offender’s past sin against them - to manipulate what we want.
    • This brings up an important point: Forgiveness does not guarantee change in the other person's behavior. Forgiveness is an act of obedience, not a tool of manipulation. It is a way of cleaning up the grudges and resentments that damage us.
  • Fear of losing the relationship 
    • We are afraid that we will try to reconcile but it will not improve the relationship so we hold back from moving forward to avoid the risk. 
    • If we fear losing the relationship entirely we may make peace with the pain and just live in the damaged relationship. Too many marriages end this way due to a fear of addressing the problems. 
What are some tools that help in achieving reconciliation?
  • Honesty
    • Speak the truth in love. Open honesty spoken in love motivates the other person to speak the same.
    • Admit our weaknesses 
    • Understand the weaknesses of the other person.
  • Transparency 
    • No more hidden secrets, cover ups, erased texts or emails, 
    • Feelings expressed openly without fear of repercussions
  • Humility
    • Our approach and response must be done with meekness. 
    • Meekness is not a sign of weakness but rather a wall of strength. 
    • We should not approach the other person with the intent to “prove” ourselves to be right. 
  • Responsibility 
    • Accept our role in the relationship and our part of problem. Stand up and be a part of the solution.
  • Compassion 
    • All that we do and say, do it unto the Lord. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
    • If we do it unto Christ, the compassion flows naturally.
  • Justice
    • For reconciliation to occur there must be a sense of justice being served. There is no beginning to reconciliation if continued punishment is added beyond what was proper. 
    • Getting justice before forgiveness and reconciliation is not justice but judgment. No one will stay in a relationship where they are shamed.
    • Justice is complete when we finally decide to stop seeking revenge and start seeking reconciliation. 
    • Don’t change the rules and keep adding to the debt. 

The pain of another will never satisfy personal insecurity or bitterness. It is a personal pain that must be dealt with from the one it inflicts itself on.

The Means of Reconciliation with God

It is important to note that God does not need to reconciled to man, but man must be reconciled to God. God has not sinned against man but we are alienated from Him due to our sin. God has a desire for a relationship and seeks to reconcile with man.

The means of settling the account is just payment for our sins. At the cross we were forgiven by Christ and offered reconciliation. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

The debt for sin was paid, and if we accept the gift of salvation, we are reconciled with God instantly.

We do not “get right” with God but receive the gift of being “made right” from Him.

It is a gift given to us from God. He is the gift-giver. Thus, He is the one who sets the terms for how to receive this free gift and then makes the offer to us.

Reconciliation is the forming of a new relationship.

Like a Phoenix that rises from the ashes, our relationship can rise from the ashes of our past failures. The reconciled God justifies by grace the sinner who accepts the means of reconciliation. Those who surrender to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit into their life are transformed into a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

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