There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. Finally, the father put an ad in the Madrid newspaper. It read, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.” On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their Father.
We read in II Corinthians 5:18, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” As the above story points out, the need for reconciliation is great in our world. Why is it so hard? The answer to that is long and complicated, and centers on our sinfulness, that those we love the most can also hurt us the most, reconciling with people is hard, and revenge is sweet and much easier. That is why God sacrificed so much by giving us His son to die on the cross for our sins, so we could be reconciled to one another. Further, God honors us by calling us to be ministers of reconciliation in His name. To do this we will need to learn to be forgiving like God.
A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. They had an argument, and one friend slapped the other in the face. The one who got slapped didn’t say anything, and wrote in the sand: “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.” They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: “Today my best friend saved my life.” The friend asked why one had been written in sand and the other stone. The response was, “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where the winds of forgiveness can erase it. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.” We need to learn to write our hurts in the sand and to carve our benefits in stone.
The minister of reconciliation needs to break down stereotypes and let go of prejudices. In 1936 Jesse Owens, the son of a black sharecropper, was competing in the Olympics in Berlin, Germany. As he prepared for the long jump qualifying he felt the pressure of the Nazi hatred for blacks. Then a tall, blue eyed, blond German confidently walked up to the pit. He immediately went straight to Jesse, and started talking strategy, encouraging Jesse to relax and do what he was capable of doing. This model of “Aryan superiority” was Luz Long. The strategy Luz offered and his encouragement Jesse credits with giving him the confidence to jump a world record 26 feet, 8 ½ inches, a record that stood for 25 years. Luz was the first person to congratulate him after he had won.
Ministers of Reconciliation need to be people of prayer. I remember once my wife and I were fighting over something that really wasn’t that important, but at the time it seemed significant. I prayed for God to fix my wife, and make her see the error of her ways. In a gentle whisper to my soul I heard God tell me to go ask forgiveness, and everything would be healed. I knew it was God’s gentle whisper because I never would have thought to ask for forgiveness. As I thought about the fight I realized that much of the problem had started with my actions, and I had unfair expectations of Martha in response to those actions. When I asked for forgiveness it was quickly granted. To this day I have no clue what we were fighting about, but I remember the prayer and the reconciliation like it was yesterday.
The world needs ministers of reconciliation. God has called you to be one of His ministers. Can you help heal a relationship? Who do you need to reach out to with forgiveness, an open mind, and prayer? How will your life be enriched if you do the hard work of reconciliation?
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