Summary: Since God reconciled us to Himself in Christ Jesus, He now calls us to be reconcilers. What does that mean with regard to conflicts in our lives and in our church?
OPEN: A medical doctor once told of one of his patients who’d developed cancer. He said she’d grown up in an abusive, alcoholic family and felt bitterness toward her parents. But when she discovered she had cancer, she decided to change her attitude and try to show love to her parents - in spite of the harm they had done to her. At one point she moved her mother into her home, and every morning as the young woman left for work she’d tell her mother she loved her. But her mother NEVER answered.
One morning, after about 3 monthes the daughter was late for work and rushed out of the house.
Her mother went to the door and yelled out: “You forgot something.”
“What?” the woman asked.
“You forgot to say I love you.”
Realizing what had just happened, the daughter rushed back to her mother, they embraced and cried. And that moment was the beginning of their reconciliation as mother and daughter.
(Bernie S. Siegel, M.D. “Prescriptions For Living”)
APPLY: Reconciliation means many things, but today we’re looking at this definition: “to fix broken relationships.”
In our text this morning, God tells us that that was what he did for us. Our relationship with God was broken… so God fixed it – He reconciled us to himself. What I find interesting about this passage is that God says: NOW that He’s reconciled US to HIM… He wants US to be a RECONCILER with others:
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” II Corinthians 5:18-19
Now for us Christians - this means a couple of things: 1st it means that we are called to be reconcilers in the church. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
Some people read that and they think that Jesus meant that they should sit quietly I the corner, fold their hands, stay out of trouble and keep their mouths shut … THEN they are peace makers. Is that what term means? Of course not. We are peace makers when we MAKE PEACE. Or another way of saying it: when we MAKE PEACE we are peace makers.
We have a case study of that in the book of Philippians: Apparently there were a couple of ladies there who weren’t getting along real well. Their names were Euodia and Syntyche. Paul wrote: “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” Now apparently Paul realized these girls weren’t going to do that on their own, so Paul enlisted someone else: “Yes, I ask you also … help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel...” Philippians 4:2-3
You see when there’s a conflict in the church it is inappropriate for the rest of us to stand back and say “Ain’t my problem.” Or another of saying that: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” But it is your circus. God has called us to be peace makers. “Blessed are peace makers for they shall be called sons of God.” If you want to please God, if you want to reflect His glory in this world, if you want to do Him honor, you’ll step up, step in and help fix what is broken… because God calls us to be fixers/reconcilers.
Now – how do we do that? Well, we REFUSE to be “enablers”. Do you know what an Enabler is? An enabler is someone who makes it easier for people to do their sin (whatever that sin is). In this case, the sin is being angry at someone in the church.
• An enabler listens and encourages their friends as they vent their spleens. They nod their head sympathetically and say soothing words.
• Enablers tell their friends it’s ok to feel the anger that they feel. “I’d feel that way too if I was treated that way!”
• Enablers may even take the side of their friend and spread some of the venom (about that OTHER person) throughout the church.
Enablers aren’t peace makers… Enablers are encouragers of bitterness and conflict.
I don’t want to be an enabler. I want to be a Peace Maker. But how do we do that?
1st - we stop being a listening post. Stop sympathizing with their anger. Research from about 8 years ago showed that if you listen to gossip long enough you eventually tend to believe it. You thus become offended with someone who didn’t even do you any harm! We don’t want to go there. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/4239731a19716.html)