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Pursue Reconciliation

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Jesus’ message in the Matthew 18:15-20 is clear and simple – but far from easy. Resolving conflict can be painful, confusing, and difficult. But Jesus is the divine physician – not only healer and savior of our souls, but also the healer of our earthly relationships. Sometimes pain caused between two people is so harmful, so damaging, and so deep, that it may seem impossible that it can be healed or fixed. But the love of Jesus can and will break every chain, heal every broken heart, and extinguish all bitterness and resentment if we fully entrust ourselves to him.

Telling someone they hurt you takes courage. Asking forgiveness is vulnerable and humbling. It seems so simple, but when emotions get involved, trust is broken, and betrayal and hurt are at the forefront, it can be challenging what steps forward to take. How many times have I taken the easy way out by ignoring the hurt someone caused me, allowing it to fester, and building up resentment towards them? How many times have I also made excuses, trying to justify my actions instead of owning the hurt I caused someone else and asking their forgiveness?

The passage wraps up in a way that’s seemingly unrelated to his first instruction for reconciliation, but I think Jesus is getting at this: the only way Christ can be truly present among us is if we have peace and unity in the body of Christ. Where there is brokenness in the body, healing must occur. For healing to happen, the process of reconciliation must be initiated. But whose responsibility is it? Who is to blame? Should I make the first move or is it on them?

Here’s 4 valuable steps I have learned when it comes to conflict resolution in relationships based on this Biblical passage:

  1. Whether you hurt someone or they hurt you, it is both parties’ responsibilities to pursue reconciliation. As the offended, it can be easy to pridefully wait for your accuser to admit their fault. Move past your pride, approach the person, and tell them how and why they hurt you and how that’s affected you. Give them an opportunity to apologize. You MUST do this, even if you think you aren’t ready to forgive them. As the offender, if you know you caused someone damage, approach them to apologize for your actions, recognize the pain that was caused, and ask them what it will take to move forward. And ask their forgiveness. In both cases – take the initiative and don’t expect the other person to do so. Both people can come away with a better understanding of the other person.
  2. Tell the person how they hurt you, between just you and them. Leave others out of it. Do not gossip, do not complain about it. If it is helpful, speak to a mentor or a very close friend who will not spread rumors, but is sincerely there to help you and support you through it. Bringing others into the conflict will only hurt and compromise other relationships.
  3. Don’t do nothing. “Time heals all wounds” is completely false. Time can help heal, but without pursuit of reconciliation and forgiveness, there can be no real healing. Do not brood over an offense – speak about it directly, privately, and face to face. The longer you wait, the longer the unopened wound goes untreated.
  4. And rely on Jesus. Ask Jesus to heal and comfort the person’s soul whom you hurt. And if you have been hurt, pray for your offender, because they are also suffering. Rely on the Divine Physician to do the work that we can’t – which is healing. Fix your eyes on the cross and allow his forgiveness for every offense ever done to wash over you and your current situation.

A New Way of Living

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Todays gospel passage, Matthew 5:20-37 is a long and tough one. At first, it doesn’t really make much sense. What do you mean Jesus, when you say, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away,” and “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place?” Jesus is serious about sin, but he is also serious about how much he loves us. His plan from the beginning of time was to go to the cross in our place.

Religious leaders often confronted Jesus about the law to see what he had to say. Most Jews had a perception that he would get rid of the law, because Jesus did not scrupulously follow those traditions. Jesus was creating a new order – a new way of living that was to be the way of the Kingdom of God. This new way of living is not “fair” like the old covenant law. It is very unfair. This is because Jesus’ love is very unfair. He took the law a step further. In a way, he is saying, “because I have shown you self-sacrificial love, you must also do the same.” His love is unfair. We don’t deserve it. In the same way, we must also choose the cross. He’s talking about living righteously – offering one’s total self on behalf of others. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. We talked
about this a lot on retreat.

I pray that you accept this high calling and do not take it lightly. Because Jesus gave everything of himself for us, we are also called to do so for the sake of others and for the Kingdom that we long for.

Posted by Samantha Taylor
Tags: love, law

Surrendering to God

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I have to admit, Luke 23 makes me tear up every time I read it. The reality of Christ’s love that I don’t deserve through His bloodshed on the cross for me pierces straight into the depth of my soul as I hear my own words (paraphrased), “Jesus I deserve to be punished and you don’t. Remember me when you come into your kingdom,” and He replies, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

I remember hearing a powerful witness talk about Luke 23 my sophomore year of college given by a senior in our ministry. I was in tears realizing I was a lot more like the first criminal than the second. I believed I already knew everything because I grew up Catholic so I didn’t really need Him. Why was He worth fully trusting anyways? I was content with just “a little Church” in my life and would never be one of those “crazy Jesus people,” instead of humbly realizing that I was justly punishable for my sins and I was deserving of God’s wrath. I couldn’t see through the fogginess my own pride had caused. He was God and I was not. I asked Jesus if He would forgive me for thinking I knew better than Him. For demanding He prove Himself to me as a pre-requisite for believing Him and following Him. I was raised a cradle Catholic, but missed the whole point - Jesus came to rescue me from myself. He wanted me to place my faith in HIM instead of my own ability to rescue me. I realized I didn’t have much of a relationship with Him, but desired all that it could be. These were the first steps in giving up control and surrendering to Him. Jesus started to break down my walls I had built up so high that I myself was blind to it.

As I reflect on this passage today at a coffee shop in Brookfield, WI, my prayer is the same that it’s been since then: “Jesus, continue to remind me I can do nothing on my own - nothing apart from You. Help me trust that what You have to offer me is better than what I think I need, and forgive me for the ways I shut You out. Increase my trust in You and replace my pride with humility. Remind me that I need You. Help me fix my eyes on You alone, placing my faith in You, not myself."

He continues to respond to me, “Sami, take my hand and let me rescue you. I will be with you - right now and forever when you see me face to face in Paradise.”