Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reconciliation

“…And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.” II Corinthians 5:18

In the early days of ministry it dawned on me that I could land up being in the business of separating people rather than reconciling people together if I could not find my way through all the landmines of complaints I heard.

Bullets, not made of metal but of words, often whiz around me. One day a man dropped by and ordered me, “Tell my wife to respect me.” A wife once coldly said to me, “I want to kill my husband.” Her kids are like bombs ready to explode from the war zone in the home. Another Muslim man stated emphatically, “I want no more memory of so and so.” On and on it goes in circles. They stumble around in spiritual darkness hating and being hated. Their homes, built on sand rather than rock, crash and are destroyed. Families separate. Enemies, once friends or even relatives, move far away from each other to obliterate all memory and contact. They cut off communication. Some days I want to walk away from all this mess and stress in ministry among some Muslims and believers from Muslim background. It’s not a wonder reconciliation is called a task. It is hard work. Then I reflect on the cross and am reminded that it is because of my sin Jesus Christ came into this world to reconcile me to the Father. He could have walked away and given up with me. Jesus paid a huge price to bring about reconciliation between me and the Father. He really suffered in doing so. I can’t fix the enmity or create peace between warring people but I can speak Jesus’ way into their grudges.

One of my good-hearted Muslim friends had an aquarium. She tried to put other fish in the tank along with the gold fish but those other fish didn`t survive. We joked about how the fish acted tribal. They want only their tribe. Putting on an angry look to get her point across, she shared how her people which comprise of numerous tribes don`t like each other and love to fight. Only their tribe can be in power. They need to forgive each other of their offenses and come together in unity but they are unwilling. Not everyone wants reconciliation. Some prefer war. Many like to keep hisab(an account).

I was sitting at the kitchen table with a whole family unit one day and my heart was singing. It had taken two years to see this family get reconciled to each other. Yes, the police had to be called in and legal action taken but that was not the end. The direction it could have gone had been very scary and potentially dangerous. It was hard work speaking into honor and shame issues. But now all was at peace. They still need to be reconciled to God and I work towards that, too. I could have separated the family unit if I had not been reminded over and over of the task God had called me to. Reconciliation is not always successful but we can at least work towards that.

God has given us the task of reconciliation. However… first I have to be at peace with everyone in my life. One of the first lessons I learned in ministry was that I could not help any Muslim or Jesus follower to get reconciled if I held a grudge or resentment against anyone myself. That came to my attention in the early days of ministry in Pakistan. It was my turn to share the evangelistic message on the women’s ward and I was struggling with inner anger but didn’t know why until it was revealed to me that I resented what one missionary colleague had said to me. God taught me an invaluable lesson: First, be reconciled with others and with God and then He will use me in the ministry of reconciliation.

Dear heavenly Father, please give me wisdom in this ministry of reconciliation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.