“The Humiliation Of Reconciliation!”(Mt.5:23-26).
In the following text the Lord Jesus Christ gives two illustrations on containing anger and on reconciliation.
In the first he says: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
From my experience in the practice of ministry I think this step to reconciliation reveals a lot of hypocrisy in our Christian practice. This pericope happen to be included in the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion) within Reformed traditions. This is so because Holy Communion is a reconciling meal. Ironically we often partake of it without reconciling.
Three decades plus, as a minister of the Word and Sacrament I have never seen anyone who left his or her gift at the altar and go to reconcile with those who have something against them – including members of the group/congregation.
The common parlance is, “I don’t have anything against him/her.” Agreed, you don’t have anything against anybody; but it is not about you. It is about your brother or sister who has something against you.
The question which is often asked: “I have made several attempts towards reconciliation and the person is adamant. So what should I do?”
In the case where a brother sins against you, “go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” In case he doesn’t listen to you take along one or two witnesses. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen to the church, treat him as you would a pagan…”(Mt.18:15-17).
The other illustration that the Lord makes is about settling disputes out of court. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still on the way; or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison…”
In the first example you are seeking to reconcile with somebody who has something against you, but in this second example you are the one whom the adversary has to deal with. In pidgin we say, “Nothing pass arrangement!”
We know how painful and hurting it can be when you are always the one taking the first step towards reconciliation, notwithstanding whether you are in the wrong or you are the wronged! Yes, it hurts! But that’s what the gospel is about. It is about bearing the shame and insults, humiliations and mockery, backstabbing and being stabbed, yet still being able to say, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”(Lk.23:34).
It’s a tough nut to crack, but the Lord expects us to become fools and idiots for the sake of the kingdom and for the sake of harmonious coexistence.
God’s best possible world is still possible. We can still enjoy paradise on earth if we stooped to do that which to the world makes fools of us.
It can be humiliating to leave your gift at the altar to go seek reconciliation from – maybe a lowlife who has something against you. But it is what the Lord wants us to do.
We can all do it if we follow the spirit of the law and not its externalistic interpretation.
Prayer: Holy Spirit give me the strength to accept the humility to live in the spirit of the law. Amen!
Have a blessed day! Peace be with you!
Rev Babila Fochang.
“Arm Yourself With The Same Attitude Of Suffering In The Body…!”(I Pt.4:1-6).The emphasis of “Joy to the world…” at Christmas more often than not multiply