Summary: Reconciliation doesn’t come easy. It didn’t come easy for Jesus who died to reconcile us to God.
“Peace Through the Cross”-Sermon for CATM October 29, 2006
He was imprisoned in 1964 for fighting against injustice and racism. He was released 1990 because foreign governments pressured an evil regime to reform with severe economic sanctions.
He was a hero, a pace-setter. He was voted president of the country that had unjustly imprisoned him for 25 years. He had enough moral authority to do whatever he wanted.
He could have turned the majority of the nation against their former oppressors with a snap of his fingers.
He could have achieved vengeance and retaliation on a scale rarely seen in history. And few would have criticized him. All would have understood. We’ve seen it before.
Instead, he established this: Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
A kilometer or so from where you are sitting there is a school named after him. I’m talking, of course, about Nelson Mandela. Wherever he goes in the world he is recognized as a great man, a brave man, a forgiving man. One of the greatest men of your or my lifetime.
But it’s this word: Reconciliation, that he brought into the modern vocabulary. What does it mean?
To reconcile means to bring into agreement or harmony, make compatible. It’s a loaded word because it’s easy to say it...Can we all say the word: Reconcile?
It’s easy to say but it’s really, really tough to do. Why? Because the word itself suggests that there is disagreement, disunity.
There may have once been unity and harmony, but it has been lost. There was once peace, but peace has been lost. Relationship has been lost; it’s been replaced...by hostility
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa was set up to investigate crimes committed and violence and human rights abuses that occurred under Apartheid, that country’s policy of official racial discrimination and to restore the dignity of victims and to make recommendations on rehabilitation and healing of survivors, their families and communities at large.
A huge part of the process was creating a process whereby the doers of evil, the perpetrators of oppression and abuse, received amnesty, an official pardon during which the abusers were forgiven their crimes.
The end goal, like I said, was peace. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee is no more. It has completed it’s work in South Africa.
Reconciliation is why South Africa did not descend into civil war or genocide.
Now, our key scripture today identifies another problem in the world. To put it simply, God’s creation...us...was in a place of broken relationship with God, our creator. The reasons were, at least on the surface, not too hard to understand.
God made us to live in a love relationship with Himself, a relationship of mutual love and caring. A relationship where our well-being was tied into recognizing the facts of who God is and who we are. That is, quite simply, that we are human and God is God.
But humankind chose to assert itself as though it were like God. The serpent said: “...You will be like God, knowing both good and evil,” if you do this thing that God specifically forbade them to do.