I witnessed something powerful last night that I’m still trying to process.
I was attending a meeting of representatives of churches all over the world with which ours is associated where our president demonstrated a powerful example of genuine servant leadership and vulnerability.
As he confessed instances of ungodly attitudes – prejudices – so many emotions stirred through the room… and no small amount of tension.
I was moved and teary-eyed at the beauty of reconciliation demonstrated by this man.
I recently heard someone (I’m sorry that I don’t remember who it was) say that reconciliation means valuing the relationship much more highly than the issue that separated or wounded it.
I believe that, for most of us, if we would really look back through our lives, there are a number of relationships that have been left shipwrecked by disagreement or damaging attitudes or some wounding action or word. As we were reminded last night, Jesus taught that those fractured relationships are obstacles that hinder our worship:
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5.23–24)
There’s a reality that I think some of us are continuing to wrestle with – the reality that one man, despite his tender heart and godly influence and significant leadership role, cannot really repent or reconcile on behalf of someone else. And the actions and attitudes that were confessed last night have been so widespread and pervasive that we have all, in some way or another, been accomplice in them… whether by harboring the same or by failing to courageously call our brothers and sisters to the reconciliation so beautifully demonstrated by our president.
As our speaker last night so simply and powerfully expressed, reconciliation requires disruption. In order for reconciliation to take place, someone has to have the courage to disrupt the status quo, to stand up against the sameness of habitual neglect or whatever the wound may be.
It’s risky… but then, any demonstration of grace is risky. Grace that is not vulnerable to being trampled or taken for granted is not really grace at all.
My friends, I was reminded last night that it’s always the right time to look back through our lives and ask God to reveal to us the neglected crash sites of damaged relationships. Whether it is a wound that we have caused and failed to repair or a wound that we have carried and failed to forgive, we are indeed called as followers of Jesus to seek reconciliation – which will always mean taking a risk.
This work of reconciliation is some risky business indeed. But the damage to our fellowship with our Father is a far greater price than we will ever risk with men.
But I wonder… is anybody else as inspired by a godly demonstration of that risk as I? Is anyone else having relationships drawn to their attention that are wounded or even severed? Is anyone else wrestling with the fear of being further wounded in our attempt to demonstrate grace to another?
Yes… some risky business indeed.