2 Corinthians 5:18-19 – All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. (NRSV)
I claim friendship with God through Jesus Christ… and that is a first step in my personal journey to wholeness.
It is actually Paul who says this is just the first step. We are not only reconciled to God through Christ but God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. God has given us a ministry
- of making friends out of enemies,
of healing old hurts,
of transforming pain into peace,
of tearing down dividing walls of hostility,
of making all things new,
especially a new me.
And it starts one person at a time.
It starts with me.
I've shared this story before in the Daily Devotion but it must be told again, this time from Zimbabwe as I prepare to speak to the congregation of Mbare Presbyterian Church this Sunday and in the context of the Eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches.
John Westerhoff was invited to Northern Ireland to lead a spiritual retreat on reconciliation with a mixed group of Catholics and Protestants, young and old. He was feeling like a failure as the week slipped by and old animosities seemed to continually rear their ugly heads. One morning, meditating on the bible passage of the woman touching the hem of Jesus' robe, a monk joined the children on the floor to listen. After the storytelling came the silence. In the silence could be heard this whispered exchange between a little Protestant girl and the Catholic Monk.
"Can I touch you?" she asked.
"Of course," he said.
"I'm scared," she ventured.
"Why?" he asked.
"If my father knew I touched you, he might beat me."
"Perhaps he does not need to know."
Then she reached out a finger and touched him. Looking at her finger she exclaimed, "Nothing happened!"
With tears welling up in his eyes, the monk said, "Yes, it did. You and I will never see the world the same again."
Westerhoff comments that after that morning, everything changed on the retreat in conversations between those who had gathered in the name of reconciliation.
And the strangest part is that with such a problem as Northern Ireland, peace has a real chance because people know the cost of reconciliation; people know that peace has a price and the price is high; and the higher the price, the more people pray for peace. Give peace a chance. And, by the grace of God, they truly seem to be doing this.
The Irish have learned the cost of reconciliation.
But have we? Maybe here in Zimbabwe, with the cost of the struggle the people of Zimbabwe endured for years they know the high cost of reconciliation, the high cost of making friends with former enemies but there are times I wonder about my own people back in Canada.
Prayer: Healing God, we pray that your purposes and plans might be carried on by your church as it seeks to serve as agents of reconciliation in the world around us. Bless your church with peace and make your church the peacemaker Christ intended it to be. Amen.