Thursday, January 28, 2010


Reconciliation can be one of the most powerful parts of a Christian life. It is a reminder that love truly can conquer all, that it's never too late to heal a relationship. The Bible gives us beautiful and moving stories about reconciliation, and we can see that God truly believes in reconciliation. God sent Jesus to Earth and led him to the cross because He believed that it wasn't too late to restore His relationship with humanity, even after all we had done. We could never pay for our own sins. We can't even muster an appropriate amount of sorrow and shame for the ways we have broken God's heart. Still, God decided to reconcile with us and to do whatever it took to move forward in the relationship.

I am only beginning to understand the power of reconciliation. There have been times in my life when there seemed to be insurmountable obstacles between me and people I loved. Sometimes I've worked for reconciliation, and sometimes I've given up. Until recently, I don't think I even really understood what reconciliation was really about. It too  often seemed like reconciliation meant offering a good enough apology or being visibly sorry. I thought that after I wronged someone, I had to somehow make up for it in order for the relationship to be restored. I am slowly learning that reconciliation isn't about reparations or contrition at all. It's about love, plain and simple.

When Esau went out to meet Jacob, he wasn't concerned about his stolen birthright at all. He didn't ask Jacob to apologize for what he had done or even to pay him back. What Esau wanted was to celebrate being reunited with his brother. He wanted to get back to their interrupted relationship, to forget that they had ever been apart. Esau didn't want Jacob to make up for what he had done—rather, he simply wanted Jacob to be his brother again. Once the relationship was restored, the past injuries didn't matter anymore. Perhaps Jacob's sins weren't erased from Esau's memory, but they simply no longer impacted the relationship. This is how God reconciles with us. He wipes our sins away so that it's like they never were. Of course God remembers what we have done, but our mistakes don't matter anymore. The love in our relationship is what's important.

Apologies and forgiveness are usually a part of reconciliation, but they aren't the focus. The point of reconciliation is to move forward in love, not to atone for the past. So often we treat forgiveness like an obligation or even a competition—the chance to be the better, more righteous person in the relationships. Instead, forgiveness should be about discarding harmful baggage and restoring love. If we don't forgive each other, then mistakes tend to hang over our relationships and get in our way. Apologies can help make the reconciliation process smoother because they demonstrate commitment to the relationship, but apologies are only one way to demonstrate our love. The point of reconciliation is to affirm that the relationship is more important to us than any hurt or blame.

It's useless to try to buy love by paying for our sins or to try to win love by letting the people we've wronged treat us harshly in return. Getting even and keeping score aren't part of true reconciliation. Love isn't fair, and when we really love someone, we don't need it to be. Why should we give mistakes the power to deprive us of love and joy? When those mistakes are no longer the focus of our relationships, we are free to simply enjoy each other once more.

1 comment:

Justin Morris said...

I stumbled upon this blog when I was searching for how God works in reconciling relationships. I am thankful to have found this because you have given me some hope for my own lost relationship. You have also given me understanding that reconciliation is more than just long, drawn out apologies. I do hope that God will work out my relationship and restore it, I truly believe that true love was involved and like you said, love can conquer all.

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