Posted by: Darrell Johnson | November 10, 2009

Selfish Reconciliation VS Selfless Reconciliation (Relationships are not easy.)

Relationships are not easy.

Today I drove past my High School, I began to think about how many friends I had; or at least how many I told myself that I had back then in order to feel good about myself. Maybe not everyone has done that, but I’m willing to say someone else besides myself has. I then began to think about relationships as opposed to nominal friendships and I came to this simple conclusion:

Relationships are not easy.

It’s easy to say you are friends with someone but it’s not easy to always be there when the going gets tough. The same could be said of Facebook, I have 559 “friends” on Facebook…I’m sure I could go about and carry on a conversation with every one of them, because I don’t add folks unless I know them…but to say they are all dear friends would be misleading. Why? Because it takes time to invest in relationships. Jesse, our HOPE director, always reminds us that you cannot microwave relationships and that is so true.

It’s good to have an inner circle of friends, even Jesus had one of these. I wasn’t around back then (obviously) but I’m willing to say that at one point or another Peter and Andrew might have had a bad day or something may have gone down that just ticked them off. Maybe one cut the other off with their camel or one threw another’s fishing nets in a sycamore tree. Whatever the case, I’m sure there was conflict and a need for reconciliation.

A question I ask myself every now and then is: “Am I bearing good fruit or bad fruit?” with regards to how I live my life and treat others. It’s a tough question to ask, because more than likely my answer tends to lean more towards the latter category.

We find in the book of Ezekiel, that God will deliver His people from the trials of famine, but as they accept His provisions…Israel must take into account its evil ways and be ashamed of them and seek forgiveness and reconciliation…and to top it all off, God reminds them that it’s for His glory and not theirs. Their reconciliation must be selfless, not selfish.

(30) “And I will multiply the fruit of the tree and produce of the fields, that you may not receive again the disgrace of the famine among the nations.
(31) “Then you will remember you evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations.
(32) “I am not doing this for your sake,” declares the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O House of Israel!”

Ezekiel 36:30-32

Ashamed and confounded!!! Who really wants to be ashamed? ANSWER: no one. But there it is, plain as day…God’s people screw up. It’s inevitable it started back in Genesis with this couple, Adam and Eve and it’s been around ever since. As we find ourselves in the midst of our shame, frustration, etc., we are called to repent…to reconcile our relationship with the Lord.

And just as we are to do this with the Creator of the universe, we are called to do the same with His creation. We are called to be peacemakers with one another and love just as Christ loved us and still love us to this very day. Oh yea one more thing, this love that Christ has for us…it’s selfless, not selfish. He gave Himself up, He put others ahead Himself in order to serve His Father. I can honestly say that most of the time I do not follow His lead. Most of the time I do what I want to do and when I want to do it. And that’s unfortunate.

I have a difficult time following the call found in Ezekiel 36:31; after all to remember my evil ways is to admit that I indeed have evil ways. Most folks like to stray away from such thinking…we’re not evil, we just have bad days or it’s not as bad as what the other guy is doing. That very well may be the case and I may seem like a Jesus Freak speaking like this, but without Jesus Christ and the selfless reconciliation that he offered to us…we find ourselves lost in an evil world. Strong words I know, but that’s nothing compared to awesome, holiness of our sovereign Lord.

The Gospel is uncomfortable. It’s good…but can be unsettling when not taken to heart; when we fail to let it transform our lives daily. After all our walk with the Lord is a daily walk and not a weekly sprint. At times it can be uncomfortable to think that we don’t have control, especially when we have to admit we’re wrong.

“The Pharisee who pardons himself is condemned…to deny the Pharisee within is lethal.”
– Brennan Manning

It’s not a good idea to just brush off sin, as just a human trait and to forfeit any earnest attempt at reconciling with one another and with the Lord. There’s a process…it takes work. Why? Because…relationships are not easy. Anything worthwhile takes work, it’s as simple as that. (Don’t worry, I will spare you from the analagous jargon). But it’s true if we are to claim Christ and follow his example, then we should seek peace. We should seek reconciliation.

“…and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

Colossians 1:20

So…something that’s been on my heart lately is the importance of genuine and selfless reconciliation. Whether it be amidst conflict/confusion with a day shelter guest, resident, staff or my fellow HOPE team members; when and if such does occur I pray that my motives are selfless and not selfish. After all, when my motives are only to satisfy the self then the process of reconciliation has been thwarted and Christ’s example for my life has been disregarded. That’s why it’s so important to (1) seek Christ (2) acknowledge your own sin (3) put the other party above yourself and (4) let the Holy Spirit do its work.

Relationships are not easy, but neither is living out the Gospel.

OH LORD, guide us all.
-Amen

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