Pastoral Perspectives

The Ministry Of Reconciliation

In my last sermon on 1 Samuel 21(From Desperation to God’s Deliverance), I shared a lesson on how we ought not to be the source of troubles to fellow believers, like how Saul was to David that led to his desperation. So if there should be any misunderstanding, accusation, grudge or unhappiness with another brother, it is only right that we settle the matter in the spirit of love and fear of God and then forgive and reconcile if we desire to worship the Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls. I do sincerely believe that as Christians, we are willing to do so. If we should struggle with it, I suspect it is because we expect the one who is in the wrong to initiate it and not us. Come on, wouldn’t it be silly of us who have been slapped to tell the person that he is forgiven and perhaps show our sincerity for reconciliation by offering the other cheek? Shouldn’t the person be thankful that we have exercised grace and mercy by not retaliating back instead?

Well, if that is the situation, then I suppose we need to look back at Easter again. For Easter is a timely reminder that our Lord went to the cross in order to bring about forgiveness of sins so that all charges against us may be put away if we desire to be reconciled back to God. And God is not the source of our troubles. It is our fallen human nature stemming from disobedience that justifies our condemnation. Yet our good Lord took the initiative to settle the matter by laying down his life on our behalf. And it began when he took the cosmic step to walk down from heaven to earth. Well, we might say that with God all things are possible but not us, even if it is to take that step to forgive and reconcile with someone who had done something against us.

So allow me to share an article that I came across recently. I suppose most of us would know Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks point guard who shot to fame recently for many record-breaking successes. During the height of that Linsanity phenomenon, Anthony Federico posted the headline “Chink in the Armor” on ESPN’s website and was fired as a result. For those who are wondering why, the term chink has an offensive slang and is used as a disparaging term for a person of Chinese birth. And as with other incidents of similar nature, he apologised publicly for his action and claimed that it was an honest mistake and that he did not mean to be disrespectful. And according to him, he had used the phrase 100 times in previous headlines without considering its negative connotations. About a month after the incident, Jeremy invited Federico to lunch. Federico had this to say, “The fact that he reached out to me, the fact that he took the time to meet with me in his insanely busy schedule… he’s just a wonderful, humble person. He didn’t have to do that.” He also added, “We talked more about matters of faith and reconciliation. We didn’t talk about the headline for more than three minutes.”

Well, we are not asked to lay down our lives in order to forgive a brother. Sometimes all it takes is just a nice meal and a good chat. Yes, we may need to find the time in the midst of our busy schedule or we may struggle to find an acceptable place where we can enjoy the food without getting into another dispute. That’s probably the only challenge we have to face if we are sincere about reconciliation. And if the person is not a brother in the faith, then we can also learn from Jeremy and talk about matters of faith and reconciliation with God. Who knows? It may well be the Lord working through the situation to bring about salvation to the person and there’s no better way to tell the gospel than to live it out through our own desire for reconciliation. But if we are not willing to do so, whether we are in the wrong or have been wronged or insist that the other party is in the wrong, then I suppose we can forget about wanting to reach out to non-believers for the glory of the kingdom since we have failed to understand the heart of the gospel for ourselves.

So are you caught in a desperate situation? Remember your Adullam and do not neglect your Nob. That’s how we can turn from desperation into God’s deliverance. And since we are all called into the ministry of reconciliation, let us be willing to go, forgive and reconcile with one another. It is not about who’s right and who’s wrong. It is about us getting right before the Lord so that we do not repeat Saul’s error in pursuing the matter.

Pastor Ronnie Ang

April 22, 2012