Reconciliation Day

peaceGenesis 33

Last week we left Jacob walking in the morning light after his life changing encounter with God. He has a confidence in him that he never knew he could have. And there will be more surprises ahead for him… for… This. Is. His. Reconciliation Day!

Years ago he left town with just the staff in his hand and the clothes on his back. And though He has made a good life since then, something has been holding him back. That something was the need to go back home and make things right with his brother Esau.

But as we have learned… and is repeated in this chapter’s text… Esau has rounded up a welcome wagon consisting of 400 men. 400 armed men. Hell’s angels on horseback.

The hairs on the back of Jacob’s neck had to have been standing straight up as he enters into this meeting with his brother. He pushes his family out in front. (Least favorite wives and their kids in the front… thanks a lot dad!) And then he himself steps toward his brother…

He is now staring… in the face… the challenge of reconciliation.  And amazingly… that face is smiling!

Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. …  10 Jacob said, “No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand, for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably.

Esau’s face was the face of God to Jacob. He could see that it was ultimately God that was gracing him through the miracle of reconciliation with his brother, Esau.

He could see the hand of providence in the situation. Reconciliation is not a common thing in our world. In our own strength we get mad and stay mad. To me “reconciliation” is a mark of a true Christian. And it proves to me that the Gospel works. BLESSED are the peacemakers, Jesus said.

Now… this doesn’t always mean you trust everybody and make yourself vulnerable to someone that has hurt you. Verses 12-17 seem to indicate that though there was a pleasant outcome, Jacob still keeps himself and his family a safe distance from his brother.

Reconciliation is complete only when trust is rebuilt between two willing hearts… and that can take time. Take your time and do it right. “Love your neighbor as yourself; but don’t take down the fence.” (Carl Sandburg)

But having said that… you will never reconcile by wishing your neighbor ill.  Reconciliation begins when we wish for the other party the love of Jesus.

Sue Martinuk shared in Christian Reader about a tiff she had with her roommate in college.  They dealt with the anger by not communicating with each other.  She came in one night and found a note from her roommate: “I wish you Jesus.” She cried. Then wrote a note asking her for forgiveness. She placed it on her pillow and went to sleep.

Later, her roommate came home and shouted from the hallway that she had left a note on her desk–“Your sister called and asked me to send her the music for “I Wish You Jesus”!”  Sue remarks:  “We both had a good laugh–and were reconciled.”

What do you wish for others? If it is Jesus… it is bound to be the solution to a lot of conflict.

Is there someone in your life that you need to reconcile with?  Can you begin by “wishing them Jesus?”  Here is hoping that you will see the face of your enemy “as the face of God.”

Blessings!

 

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Down With the Old Man, Up With the New

Beginning today I am starting a series on my favorite chapter in the Bible.  It is… a drum roll please… Colossians, Chapter 3.  Find that surprising?  I love this chapter because I believe it to be one of the most beautiful pictures of Christian growth and maturity in the Bible.  It begins like this:

 1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

This is a passage about what happens to a believer post baptistm.  Why do I say that?  Well, verse one says:  you have been raised with Christ.  The word in Greek for raised here is the same one Paul uses in Chapter 2, verse 12:  “…having been buried with him in baptistm and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.”  This relationship of being raised out of the baptismal… and being spiritually raised with Jesus at His resurrection… is carried into Chapter 3, Verse 1.  Hence, my favorite chapter in the Bible is all about what it means to live for Christ – after you’ve taken that step of obedience in your discipleship called baptism.  An article in Sports Spectrum years ago tells what a difference baptism plays in the life of a believer.

“Pat Summerall, the well known sports announcer, overcame alcoholism and became a
follower of Christ in his late sixties. He said this about water baptism:  “I went down in the water, and when I came up it was like a 40-pound weight had been lifted from me. I have a happier life, a healthy life, and a more positive feeling about life than ever before.”

About prayer meetings and Bible studies Summerall comments: “It’s like an alcoholic looking for a drink. If he wants it bad enough, he can find it—no matter what. I’m like that when it comes to finding prayer services and Bible studies. No matter where I am working, I know that they’re out there and I can find them.”  (Art Stricklin Sports  Spectrum (Nov/Dec 2001), p. 27)

I like the connection made in this article… between how excited he felt coming out of those baptismal waters and the desire to scope out Bible Study and prayer services where ever he was working.

Becoming a believer in Christ, one undergoes not just an outward washing… but an inward heart transplant (Hebrews 8:10).  Our hearts are no longer chasing after the fame, wealth and comforts that this world can give us… but are after the affections of a living Christ seated at the right hand of God.

One final word about the word, raisedIn the Greek it is in the Aorist tense indicating that our co-resurrection with Jesus is a past completed action.  The moment we were raised with him… our hearts were his.

I still remember the evening of my baptism.  I wasn’t sure it was going to “take.”  For years I had faced the invitation portion of the church service with dread.  I felt an urge to do something, but wouldn’t do anything about it.  I wondered if now, after I had taken the plunge (literally as well as figuratively) I would still have that same feeling.  After my baptism, I changed my clothes and joined the congregation mid-sermon.  When the time came for the invitation… all I felt was… peace.  My heart was truly His!