Increasingly we in Antioch Network are watching God lead us
into the ministry of reconciliation.
What is reconciliation? What does it look like? What do
we do to achieve it?
Talking about reconciliation is delicate. It is a sacred
process. Most of it takes place in secret – below the surface. It is something
Jesus does in human hearts. It is His miracle.
Reconciliation is a small Jewish woman standing in a
cemetery in Germany before a stone erected to remember her parents. They died
in the Holocaust. A German woman hesitatingly approaches her and asks for
forgiveness. The Jewish woman embraces her. There are tears…
Reconciliation is a group of Jews and Arabs, followers of
Jesus, confessing to each other how they and their people have wronged the
other. Forgiveness is extended and received.
Reconciliation is a group of Christians committed to each
other and praying for spiritual renewal in their region. They are Catholic,
Anglican, Lutheran, free church and Messianic believers.
Reconciliation is a woman slowly coming forward during a
prayer meeting with a basin of water and a towel. She approaches another woman
who has treated her with contempt. Kneeling down she begins to wash the woman’s
feet. The woman breaks into tears. The two embrace.
Reconciliation is a mystery. It is God’s work. It can’t
be reduced to a formula. But there are steps, rooted in the teachings of Jesus,
which typically are found to be part of the process:
1 – Confession: “I speak the truth about how
I/my people have wronged you/your people.”
2 – Repentance: “I/we are deeply sorry. I/we
come to ask for your forgiveness.”
3 – Forgiveness: “In the name of Jesus, and
the power of His cross, I forgive you.”
4 – Reconciliation: Mercy, forgiveness,
healing, restitution and love flow. We come together. All barriers are gone.
The prisoners have been set free. God’s kingdom has become visible.
Sometimes words are hard to find. Such things can be said
through symbols and symbolic acts.
Reconciliation is a manifestation of the Presence of the
Kingdom of God because it is a manifestation of the Presence of the King. It
belongs to the category of “signs and wonders”.
Reconciliation NEVER denies or minimizes wrong(s) that were
done. It brings wrongs to the cross of Christ, and leaves them there. It
releases the wrongdoer into God’s hands.
Reconciliation is hard work. It demands deep repentance,
humility, faith, patience (usually years) and walking the way of the Crucified.
There is no promise of “success”.
Reconciliation is how we are reunited with God. This is
its source. It heals marriages and families. It is how wars are avoided and
nations are brought together.
Reconciliation can heal divisions among Christians. It is
how the Body of Christ will be brought together in true love. It is how Jesus’
prayer in John 17 will be answered.
Reconciliation is central to the gospel we preach – the
gospel of the kingdom. From the broken body of Christ on the cross flows forth
healing for all humanity.