Forgiveness doesn’t require reconciliation. Sometimes reconciliation isn’t possible or safe. Forgiveness is your decision that no one can take away from you. It’s you honoring God. It’s you honoring your healing process. It’s you deciding you’ve suffered enough because of what happened. It’s empowering and it is beautiful. Reconciliation requires that both people are willing to do the hard and humble work of coming back together. If they weren’t willing to honor the work necessary to come back together in a healthy way, that doesn’t make you a failure. Not even close. Your redemption by God is not held hostage by someone else’s choices. It’s between you and God.
For too long, many in the Church have argued that unity in the body of Christ across ethnic and class lines is a separate issue from the gospel. There has been the suggestion that we can be reconciled to God without being reconciled to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Scripture doesn’t bear that out. We only need to examine what happened when the Church was birthed to see exactly how God intends for this issue of reconciliation within the body of Christ to fall out.
If an elder or private member of the church finds his brethren cold towards him, there is but one way to remedy it. It is by being revived himself, and pouring out from his eyes and from his life the splendor of the image of Christ. This spirit will catch and spread in the church, and confidence will be renewed, and brotherly love prevail again.
Restore what needs to be restored. Ask for forgiveness where needed so that we can go on and share the gift. Our inability or our unwillingness to do that is, I’m sure, what produces a lot of our “dis-ease.” A symptom, perhaps, yet it’s also evidence of our frantic attempts to grasp for joy, to share joy, and to give joy to others instead of first going back and doing that basic homework of the heart that is central to our lives, where we forgive and are forgiven and where we find God’s love and then learn how to share it. Hard preparation produces easy enjoyment.
I don’t think Bible verses were meant to be thrown like grenades at each other. They were meant for us to use to point each other toward love and grace and invite us into something much bigger.
Those who have been silenced will naturally seek out some other community where they can find a salve for their identity pain. In these instances, we have ceded our opportunity for gospel mission to the world, driving those who need King Jesus into other kingdoms that don’t give life and do not satisfy. The sad truth is that while these other communities will offer love, they cannot provide the healing the gospel does.
It is only when we truly love others, whether they are our brothers and sisters in Christ or our unsaved neighbors, that we can endure through conflict without walking away or giving in to the outrage. If the Christlike response to the age of outrage lies in our ability to disagree in love, a crucial first step is our commitment to forbear with others, whether with Christians who may not be as mature as we are, or with the lost who are captive to an incomplete and distorted worldview. This kind of love can forbear with others only because it remains transfixed upon the mission of building the Kingdom of God.
Had it not been for this [Christ’s] dying, grace and guilt could not have looked each other in the face; God and the sinner could not have come nigh; righteousness would have forbidden reconciliation; and righteousness, we know, is as divine and real a thing as love. Without this exception, it would not have been right for God to receive the sinner nor safe for the sinner to come. But now, mercy and truth have met together; now grace is righteousness, and righteousness is grace. This satisfies the sinner’s conscience, by showing him righteous love for the unrighteous and unlovable. It tells him, too, that the reconciliation brought about in this way shall never be disturbed, either in this life or that which is to come. It is righteous reconciliation, and will stand every test, as well as last throughout eternity. The peace of conscience thus secured will be trial-proof, sickness-proof, deathbed-proof, judgment-proof.
The very God whom we have offended has Himself provided the way whereby the offence has been dealt with. His anger, His wrath against sin and the sinner, has been satisfied, appeased and He therefore can now thus reconcile man unto Himself.
Immanuel will bring lasting, true peace. (Isa 7:14) Not just an end to physical war, although that is what we usually think of when we think of peace. No, this is a deeper peace. A peace between us and God. True reconciliation between the Creator and his creatures. Through Immanuel life for us and his death for us we will be at peace with God. This isn’t our doing. We didn’t make the peace. We didn’t even take the first step. God did. Because that is God’s attitude toward us: always seeking, always restoring, always saving. Immanuel comes to show us that we matter, each and every one of us, to God. Jesus Christ, our Lord, and God’s Son, is Immanuel – God with us. Jesus was born a child and lived among us, died our death on the cross, all so that we would have peace with God, from this time forth and forever more. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts has done this.