Maturing Toward Wholeness in the Inner Life

The Ministry of Reconciliation

Bringing Healing and Beauty to Wounded Relationships

1 – God reconciles individuals—and also groups—who are separated relationally. This is just the kind of person he is. God is healing fractured humanity.

2 – As we gradually mature toward Christlikeness, we become agents of reconciliation. This is just the kind of persons we are becoming.

3 – We become agents of reconciliation in our relational circles—family, church fellowship, neighborhood, among various social groups, between political factions.

4 – We serve to heal the wounds history has left behind which have alienated countries, cultures, religions, races and the various Christian traditions.

5 – What does the process of reconciliation look like? How does it start? Unfold? End? Its dynamics can be applied to both individuals and groups.

6 – The following steps are typically found in processes of reconciliation. Not all are found in every case, and they need not occur in this order. Use these as a guide:

7 – Step 1—We pray. We invite Jesus into the situation. We humble ourselves before him. We ask for spiritual protection. We seek his insight and guidance.

8 – Step 2—We request the prayers of intercessors. Hatred, bitterness, division are spiritual strongholds. Reconciliation involves spiritual battle.

9 – Step 3—We listen to each other’s stories. We seek to “hear” the pain of the other person or group with respect and empathy. We don’t evaluate or judge.

10 – Step 4—We seek insight. How have others been affected by us or by members of our group. We want to view our own history through their eyes.

11 – To listen to someone else with respect and compassion is an act of love. To understand how our history has affected them is to grow in wisdom.

12 – Step 5—We tell our own stories. We avoid defending ourselves, blaming or judging. This is not about who is right or wrong.

13 – God will decide right and wrong. Surely there is enough of both to go around. This is about respectfully growing in trust, understanding, compassion.

14 – Step 6—We confess. We acknowledge what we know to be true. Where we, or our family, culture, race or denomination have wronged others, we say so.

15 – It is appropriate for our confession to extend as far as the wrong has reached. Private wrong calls for private confession; public wrong for public confession.

16 – Hanna and I have been so blessed by the actions of many Germans who are taking public steps to acknowledge the historic evils of their Nazi past.

17 – All over Germany brass stones (Stolpersteine) are being laid in front of former homes of Holocaust victims giving their names and details of how they died.

18 – Plaques are being placed where synagogues formerly stood, acknowledging the burning of Jewish houses of worship during the night of November 9-10, 1938.

19 – All this is public telling of the truth. The subsequent effects are healing and the blessing of God. The spiritual atmosphere of a place can be changed.

20 – Step 7—We ask for forgiveness. The request comes from our heart with full integrity. We are sensitive and respectful. This may be painful for both of us.

21 – We give the other party the space they may need to decide how they will respond. They may be unable to forgive, or not yet ready. They may need time.

22 – It is our choice to ask for forgiveness. It is their choice whether or not to extend forgiveness. We honor their response.

23 – Step 8—We extend forgiveness. We feel no need to defend or justify ourselves or our people. God is Judge. We leave pay-back to him.

24 – Hanna read from her book, A Garland for Ashes, in a public meeting in the city of Bonn. She sat down. Unexpectedly, a German man came to the microphone.

25 – “Hanna, my grandfather was a Nazi. He was an SS Officer. He killed people. He was in Chelmno the same time your parents were gassed to death.”

26 – “Hanna, I don’t know what to do with that. I can only stand here and speak the words my grandfather never spoke. Will you forgive me?”

27 – Hanna rose. She approached him. “I forgive you.” They embraced. He wept. The crowd was gripped—silent. Something broke in the spiritual atmosphere.

28 – Where we are unsure what is true and what is not, we wait for more clarity. Confessing and asking for forgiveness must be done in truth.

29 – The reality of reconciliation is more sacred than who is right or wrong. When Jesus unites two parties, right or wrong is no longer the issue. Love is.

30 – Step 9—We practice representational repentance. We follow Biblical examples of confession and repentance on behalf of our forefathers.

31 – The psalmist confessed and asked forgiveness for the sins of contemporaries and forefathers (Psalm 106:6-7, and throughout the Psalm).

32 – The prophet Daniel identified with and asked forgiveness for the sins of his contemporaries, his forefathers and his people (Daniel 9:4-19).

33 – Hanna and I belong to a Christian initiative in which Catholics and Lutherans are confessing and repenting over how they have wronged each other historically.

34 – Catholics are acknowledging that the Reformation was a gift to the Body of Christ. Lutherans are honoring their Catholic fathers and mothers.

35 – Reconciliation, rooted in Jesus’ teachings and birthed in the Spirit, grows. Catholics and Protestants are now confessing centuries of “Christian” anti-Semitism.

36 – The initiative is expanding. We are now Messianic Jews, Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Baptists, Pentecostals, non-denominational congregations and others.

37 – Step 10—We bring our sins to Christ on the cross. We do this in prayer. Where appropriate we also bring to him the sins of our forefathers and our people.

38 – We tell Jesus the truth about our sins. We ask him to forgive us. His cross has power to forgive, cleanse, heal and reconcile (Ephesians 2:14,16).

39 – Step 11—We seek opportunity to make restitution. Where possible and appropriate we do so. In the case of historic wrongs there may be little we can do.

40 – A heart to make restitution where possible shows the sincerity of our repentance. Symbolic acts may be appropriate and can be very healing.

41 – Step 12—When two parties forgive each other, reconciliation can take place. The kingdom of God becomes visible. All can see—God has done this!

42 – If the other party is not yet ready for reconciliation, we respect their decision. We treat them kindly. We prayerfully keep the door open.

43 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God…. God is love (1 John 4:7-8).

44 – Reconciliation is God’s miracle. It is an expression of Christlikeness being formed in the inner life.

 

 

Last edited—August 1, 2017

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