Reconciliation - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)
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November 10, 2016


An unthinking moment on social media can sever a relationship forever. A harsh word in anger can leave a scar that never heals. In this post-election period, it is not difficult for feelings to be hurt because of emotional pain over a disappointing outcome or gloating over a political victory. It is so easy to break our relationships with family, friends and acquaintances and often so difficult to repair the damage.

When we have a problem with a brother or sister in Christ, we are called to follow God’s example and reconcile with that person, and in as much as it is in our power to live peaceably with everyone. Christians should be especially adept at bringing reconciliation to our relationships since we have first-hand awareness of our need for reconciliation to God through our Lord Jesus. But how do we do it?

Well, the Bible has a few things to say about the topic – shocking, I know (snarc). Reconciliation is the work that God is engaged in constantly with the central moment being the death and resurrection of Jesus. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18) So, we can use this verse as both a model of what we should do in imitation of what God has done for us through Christ and as acknowledgement that Reconciliation is a ministry we should practice.

Jesus’s sacrifice changed everything for us, in fact the Greek root of the word for Reconciliation means “change” or “exchange.” We should see our role in this idea of change for reconciling with the people from whom we are estranged. Just as all of us sinners were headed for an ignoble end until God moved and changed our relationship with Him, we also need to be agents of change in our relationships in order to reconcile.

Therefore, whether we are right or wrong in our own minds, our ministry requires us to move and try to make a change in the relationship*. Here are 3 steps to take when we’re at odds with someone:

1.     Pray – It all starts here. We should pray for the person, for the relationship, and for courage to obey the urgings of the Spirit.

2.     Move – If you sense the Spirit is urging you to take the first step, then by all means do so. Reach out to the person to talk. You don’t have to admit you are wrong if you aren’t, but Reconciliation is something done by the one who offers it; it is not just something that happens to estranged people.

3.     Move On – Agree to disagree. Apologize. Make amends. Most slights or insults can be forgiven. Think about God and what He has forgiven in your life. Certainly, we can forgive each other for moments of weakness or incivility. It’s likely time to put egos aside and move on. And we need to move on because we have so much work to be done in loving our neighbors. It’s hard to love someone that you can’t or won’t forgive. If God can’t put our sins as far away from us as east from west, we can be willing to let it go.

I wish you peace in your relationships and strength in your God-given ministry of reconciliation.

*Note: If you are in an abusive relationship, your first responsibility is to your safety and the safety of others. In this case, Reconciliation needs to be handled with appropriate precautions and after seeking help from trusted advisors.

Principles like reconciliation aren’t taught at all institutions of higher learning but they are woven into the fabric of Geneva College. That’s because reconciliation is a Christian principle that comes straight from God’s word, and all curriculum at Geneva is founded on God’s word.

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