Reconciliation

I am working with two gnarly church/ministry situations. One is a bitter battle between two pastors, both really good men. But there differences erupted a couple of weeks ago and I got the call. I’ve met with them and the other two pastors, who knew nothing of the dispute, amazingly. The second meeting included the four wives, which was a first for them. The wisdom of getting them involved was obvious throughout the meeting. They will tell the church about what is going on, including the lead pastor’s deep confession. I am praying that the church will rise to being trusted as the process goes on. I really believe Acts 15 is the way to do things. Everyone says their piece publicly and with the whole church hearing. It’s messy, but I actually believe it empowers the church to act in grace.

A while back (Oct. 16) I blogged on steps to reconciliation. I’ve been thinking more about it, so I want to revise what I wrote then.

1. Confession: talk about what happened, taking full responsibility for what I have done. The confession is as complete as possible. Other people will need to help the offender in getting his confession straight. When the problem involves deception, getting confirmation from other people or a polygraph may be essential. The confession cannot involve manipulative phrases like “I’m sorry” or “Please forgive me.” That comes later, but at this stage, the others are under heavy pressure to say “It’s OK.” Tiger Woods’ recent apology is an example of a good confession.

2. Compassion. the offender loves the one offended and hears his pain, sharing it as Christ does. He helps the offended one express his hurt and anger with true empathy and care. It is done without any explanations or corrections, no matter how outrageous the angry statements of the offended one may be. Like Job’s comforters, he weeps, shares the dust and agony.

3. Repentance: this is change of values, not just behavior, as we see in passages like Matt. 3:8 and Acts 26:20. For a counter example, think of Jimmy Swaggart weeping away in front of the world and then going right back to his trash. It will take time and perhaps expert help to get to the values behind the behavior.

4. Redemption: The offender comes out of the bad place. That place might be emotional, social, spiritual or physical. It may involve counselors or physicians or pastors to help with the movement.

5. Restitution: What ever was robbed from the offended is returned. It is easy if it is money. If it is honor that was taken, then honor will be returned. It may involve confession/apology to others who were impacted, clearing the name of someone who has been slandared, etc.

6. Reconciliation: clearing up the relational damage done by the sin. It takes time and experience together for this to happen. Hearts must be shared. Normal relationships with trust and openness cannot happen until this occurs.

7. Restoration: this will be through several levels with any kind of leadership occurring only after the trust has been restored. 1 Timothy 5:19-22 is a great passage. Don’t be too quick to entertain either accusation or restoration.

One must NEVER do step 6 before going through the other steps. So often the sinner is really only interested in what minimal steps need to be taken to get back into the place of leadership (see Saul in 1 Samuel 15). There is no basic change. Work through the steps deliberately and carefully.

There is a whole ‘nother blog about the steps of the offended and on forgiveness.

4 thoughts on “Reconciliation

  1. Something for the offended:

    1 Peter 2:20-23

    “20For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously”

    and Matt 18:15-17

    “15 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16″But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.” 17″If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

    For the offender:

    1 John 2:9-10:

    “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”

    and

    Matt 5:23-24

    23″Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. ”

    Some additional thoughts:

    Christ’s teaching on humility (the beatitudes) has been given lip service in the Western church but it is rarely heeded in our lives. We listen to the beatitudes and starry eyed go “How beautiful” then we go home and fight like cats and dogs. We’re told by the secular culture and by church culture that we men are supposed to be alpha male/silverback type males, and not ‘girly’, implying that aggressiveness is to be lauded. Jesus was a ‘fighter’ we are told, so much so that we now have ‘christian’ fight clubs… What a deplorable travesty of the truth. For all of you immersed in this culture and false teaching, I remind you: the strength of a man in the Lord’s eyes lies not in his biceps or ability to back hand slap, but in his ability to fall before Him on his knees and pray mightily in the Spirit. The wisdom of this world is folly to God and His ways are not our ways.

    If we as christians truly understood the value of long suffering and humility in the eyes of Christ, there would be far fewer disputes to resolve. 1 Peter 2 explains this well, yet you won’t hear this preached in many churches in this country. Because it clashes too much with the idea that we must fight when we are right. We’ve got the most trigger happy suing culture in the world, with more lawyers per sq foot than any other nation. Why? Because we like to ‘take it to the other’. This is ingrained in our revolution based culture. This has of course infiltrated our worldly churches.

    I submit, that instead of honoring the impulse towards aggression that is the natural outworking of our fallen natures, let us rather honor the long suffering and humility that Christ calls us to. When a brother insults us, let us not feel it necessary to insult back, or even to defend ourselves with like aggression. When a brother offends us, if it is a serious sin, we should follow the instructions of Christ as per Matt 18 and seek to win him over, so that we may save him from death ((as per James 5:19-20) and win him over.

    The above is not possible in our fleshly strength, but is only possible when we abide in Christ by faith. The extent to which we blow up at others when slighted is the extent to which we have failed to abide in the grace of God and failed to recognize our own sinfulness towards Him. We owe him 10,000 talents, or 150,000 years worth of wages. Our brother owes us far less. So let’s not allow the evil one to influence us into aggression towards those who fail us. For we have failed God mightily ourselves.

    Prov 29:23:

    “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.”

    Blessings,
    TR

  2. Something for the offended:

    1 Peter 2:20-23

    “20For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously”

    and Matt 18:15-17

    “15 If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16″But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.” 17″If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

    For the offender:

    1 John 2:9-10:

    “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”

    and

    Matt 5:23-24

    23″Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. ”

    Some additional thoughts:

    Christ’s teaching on humility (the beatitudes) has been given lip service in the Western church but it is rarely heeded in our lives. We listen to the beatitudes and starry eyed go “How beautiful” then we go home and fight like cats and dogs. We’re told by the secular culture and by church culture that we men are supposed to be alpha male/silverback type males, and not ‘girly’, implying that aggressiveness is to be lauded. Jesus was a ‘fighter’ we are told, so much so that we now have ‘christian’ fight clubs… What a deplorable travesty of the truth. For all of you immersed in this culture and false teaching, I remind you: the strength of a man in the Lord’s eyes lies not in his biceps or ability to back hand slap, but in his ability to fall before Him on his knees and pray mightily in the Spirit. The wisdom of this world is folly to God and His ways are not our ways.

    If we as christians truly understood the value of long suffering and humility in the eyes of Christ, there would be far fewer disputes to resolve. 1 Peter 2 explains this well, yet you won’t hear this preached in many churches in this country. Because it clashes too much with the idea that we must fight when we are right. We’ve got the most trigger happy suing culture in the world, with more lawyers per sq foot than any other nation. Why? Because we like to ‘take it to the other’. This is ingrained in our revolution based culture. This has of course infiltrated our worldly churches.

    I submit, that instead of honoring the impulse towards aggression that is the natural outworking of our fallen natures, let us rather honor the long suffering and humility that Christ calls us to. When a brother insults us, let us not feel it necessary to insult back, or even to defend ourselves with like aggression. When a brother offends us, if it is a serious sin, we should follow the instructions of Christ as per Matt 18 and seek to win him over, so that we may save him from death ((as per James 5:19-20) and win him over.

    The above is not possible in our fleshly strength, but is only possible when we abide in Christ by faith. The extent to which we blow up at others when slighted is the extent to which we have failed to abide in the grace of God and failed to recognize our own sinfulness towards Him. We owe him 10,000 talents, or 150,000 years worth of wages. Our brother owes us far less. So let’s not allow the evil one to influence us into aggression towards those who fail us. For we have failed God mightily ourselves.

    Prov 29:23:

    “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.”

    Blessings,
    TR

  3. I’m currently digesting (slowly) Miroslav Volf’s profound work on broken relationships titled “Exclusion and Embrace.” It is full of rich and deep insights, coupled with thoughtful exposition of Scripture. Thorough, scholarly, and highly rewarding. Have you perused it yet?

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