Summary: Part 5 of a 6 part series on the 12 Steps as a Spiritual Discipline
(Slide 1) Last week was the Super Bowl and those who love the color of black and gold are rejoicing because their beloved Steelers are the champions!
The half-time show was tame, (at least by Rolling Stones standards,) and I never thought I would see 60-year-old men rumble up and down a stage as they did. I glanced at a headline on yahoo.com after their performance and it implied that they were not happy with the ‘censorship’ that had been applied to perhaps their performance as well as the entire situation. Some of us were more interested in the commercials than the game and those companies who advertised this year had to pay a record 2.5 million dollars for a 1 minute commercial!
Speaking of commercials, I would love the NFL to team up with Staples and their easy button (Show button) for a commercial. Now, your favorite team would be able to get out of a tough spot.
(Slide 2) The Colts would be able to take the next step toward the Super Bowl and simply hit their ‘easy button’ (press my ‘easy button’) and errant field goals would suddenly right themselves.
My beloved Bengals would be able to finally return to the Super Bowl because when there is a key play during the playoffs, all they would have to do is hit their ‘easy button’ (press button again) and there would be an automatic first down or touch down which ever they needed to stay in the game. Even the lowly Houston Texans (Slide 3) would be able to get ahead by pressing their ‘easy button’ (press button again) and get the number one NFL draft choice they want without a problem.
(Hum… NASCAR season is here… ooh, the possibilities.)
Wouldn’t it be nice if life had an ‘easy button?’ (Show button again) When it was time to go to the dentist (Slide 4) just push your easy button and ‘voila’ instant filling or crown.
How about having one for those very important appointments such as a job interview? (Slide 5) Just press the button and ‘boom’ all nervousness and anxiety would disappear!
But life does not come with an easy button, does it? (Slide 6) Especially as we come to the ninth of twelve steps to God’s way of living the step of reconciliation. (Slide 7)
We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
How do we take this step?
First, we need to look at Step 8 again. (Slide 8)We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. The key word for this step is forgiveness.
Our main text for this morning links forgiveness and reconciliation, two very important themes in the Bible and especially in the New Testament, together. Here is how it reads in the New Living Translation:
(Slide 9) All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.
(Slide 10) What does it mean to reconcile? It means to resolve, patch up, or settle differences between others.
In our text, we read that the central mission as followers of Christ is to help others to resolve, patch up, or settle their differences with God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However, as we have been reflecting on our journey so far and coming face to face with those ruts in our life that trip us up, we are very much aware that we also need to be reconciled with others and others with us. We are painfully aware of the fact that part of reason that we get in ruts and that we need a personal relationship with Christ is due to conflict and alienation with other people and the Bible clearly acknowledges this issue. (Slide 11) In Colossians 3:13 we read ‘You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.’ All of us have our quirks and issues that irritate others but Paul goes on to say that we must move beyond making allowances for those quirks and truly forgive someone who offends you because forgiveness is at the heart of Christ’s actions on our behalf.
And, as we have heard before (Slide 12), resentment has no place in our hearts and lives as well as we read in Job 5:2 ‘Surely resentment destroys the fool, and jealousy kills the simple.’ The offenses that have hurt us, hurt. Of that, there can be no doubt. But, are we going to let them destroy us?
Resentment and jealousy are like acids that eat us up. We cannot afford to let them do that to us. It robs us of the joy of living and it makes life miserable.