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The Responsibility of Believers for Reconciliation

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Our Responsibility of Reconciliation.

Good morning/evening, last week saw from God’s word that as believers we have the ministry of reconciliation between God and lost.  And our message is the simple Gospel message, “he doesn’t hold your sins against you.”  Today I would like to look the responsibility of believers and the area of reconciliation with OTHER BELIEVERS. 

We are told in Romans 12:18 that insofar as it depends on me I am to live peaceably with all people.  That is, I am to strive to live in peace with the whole community around me, believers and unbelievers.  But you and I both know that we have a special relationship with other believers.  If I am in Christ and you are in Christ we have a soul connections that surpasses any earthly connection.  We see countless examples of how other believers are called the brothers and sisters even though they are as 3 John says “were as strangers.” 

And because we are brothers and sisters IN CHRIST we are told numerous times to live in unity, in peace, in patience with one another, bearing one another’s burdens, and LOVING one another. 

You see we are connected.  You and I are connected in a way that transcends this planet.  It connects my soul with the soul of anyone who loves the Lord Jesus Christ.  It means that you and I may have nothing earthly in common, but in Christ we have all things in common.  In fact Paul makes the argument in 2 Cor 6 that unbelievers and believers have very little in common. 

Therefore, b/c we are bros and sisters linked with an eternal connection we have the responsibility to do whatever we can to make sure that our relationship with other believers is amicable at worst and unified at best.  You and I both know Christians are not known for their unity and gentle dealings with one another. 

I found this on the internet so it must be true.  Church splits over spelling of 'hallelujah.'

GREELEY - A little Jewish praise word caused a lot of controversy as a Colorado church, divided over the proper spelling of 'hallelujah, ' split up and re-formed as separate congregations.
The problem arose when the board of elders at Bible Baptist Temple budgeted money for a praise banner to hang from the sanctuary ceiling bearing the word "hallelujah, " or "alleluia." One faction insisted the word be spelled the first way, while the other wouldn't budge from the second way. Petitions were drawn up, rallies held and late-night threats received by both sides. One man, an "alleluia" supporter, was nearly clobbered by a rock that came through his window. The rock bore a note that said, simply, "hallelujah! "
Both sides were adamant that since they had grown up with a particular spelling, theirs was correct.
"It makes a tremendous difference, when you open your eyes and see it there on the banner spelled wrong," said a hallelujah supporter. "It's so jarring to see it without the 'h' at the beginning. Nobody spells it that way anymore."
"I was so sick about it I couldn't sleep," said Evelyn Haney, 57, an equally ardent 'alleluia' supporter who carried a sign during a recent day of picketing. "To think some people spell this wonderful word with a 'j' in it. It's not something where I question their salvation, but at times you have to wonder."
The two churches now meet in separate school auditoriums, and each has fashioned a banner to suit its own preference. Worship, says one parishioner, is "much better now."

Jesus Raises the Standard of Unity

This is a ridiculous story for sure but I am certain that any of you could sit and tell me of a time where you were treated horribly by another Christian or perhaps treated another Christian horribly… It may not involve throwing rocks through windows.  In fact the two parties may not by DOING anything that would be considered uncivil.  But the real problem here is the attitude that we have towards our own brother and sister.  Let’s see what Jesus says about how our attitude toward our bro or sis should be and the importance of it.  This is part of the Sermon on the Mount which is Mat 5-7.  This address sets the structure and requirements of the Kingdom.  It’s a Code of Conduct of sorts for the believer.  Where as the Law had fallen short the New Covenant is more encompassing and deals with inward attitudes more than outward actions.  So, when Christ speaks to the crowd there are most likely very few murderers in his midst.  And I’m sure there was a sense of self-righteousness that went with that fact. 

But Jesus elevates the standard of unity between bros and sisters.  He tells people not to break their shoulder patting themselves on the back b/c of their righteousness.  It’s not just about the absence of murder that means a great relationship; rather it is the inward attitude of the believer that means good relationships. 

We see this in many places in the bible.  Eph 4:3 “Make every effort to maintain unity” Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace),.”

1 Thessalonians 5:15 always pursue what is good for one another and for all.

All of the NT authors place a high standard on unity.  Not an external only putting up with the other person, rather a truly inward patient unity.  In many NT passages forgiveness, patience, endurance, long-suffering, and gentleness are all a part of this relationship.  The truth the Bible shows is that your outer is controlled by your inner self.  If the inner self is at peace with others then the outer will be at peace as well. 

Jesus raises the standard by saying unity is NOT just not killing eachother.  No, unity is an inward peace that comes from humility and patience within the body.

As believers we are supposed to place a HIGH priority on unity.  Unity has been a theme of the Bible from beginning to end but in the new covenant Jesus elevates the importance of the unity of the believer.

Jesus Raises the Importance of Unity

Most of us place a high precedence on worship.  The very fact that you are in church instead of anywhere else says that you value worship.  The worship music here is second to none.  Martha and her crew do a great job leading us to God’s throne through music.  The teaching here most weeks is great.  Edwin does an excellent job of helping us explore the scriptures and apply it to our life.  Our fellowship here is great.  We love getting together and encouraging one another. 

But Jesus shows how important restoring a relationship with a believer is by using the very act of worship.  In this teaching Jesus sets the scene where a man is offering a sacrifice on the altar and then remembers that his brother has something against him.  Notice, it doesn’t say who started it, whose fault it was, or anything.  All it says is that he has something against you.  Here is how important reconciling that problem is.  You are to STOP your sacrifice, right there!  The words there are commands, “Leave it and GO.”  Just like I tell my kids when they need to put something down and eat. Stop it, leave it at the altar and go and make amends. 

How important is it to make amends, to be reconciled with your brother?  We see in Psalm 66:18 18 if I had harbored sin in my heart, the sovereign Master would not have listened.”  When you knowingly harbor unresolved sin in your heart you put a wall up between you and God. This shows that earthly relationships do matter

And we know that God hates these attitudes because we hear the echoes of the NT where Jeremiah addresses all the sinful practices of the Sermon on the Mount.

Jeremiah 7:9-10 9 you steal. You murder.(mat 5:21) You commit adultery(Mat 5:30). You lie when you swear on oath (Mat 5:34). You sacrifice to the god Baal (Mat 6:24). You pay allegiance to other gods that you do not really know.  10 Then you come and stand here in my presence in this house I have claimed as my own

That’s not me… The new code of conduct of the believer is higher.  It is more important that you get things right with your bro or sis than finish your worship. There is plenty of time to worship after the reconciliation, you can even worship together.

God desires us as the BODY OF CHRIST to do our part for the sake of unity.  He takes the relationship between believers VERY seriously, therefore, we should as well.  Jesus shows us his standard of unity and then demonstrates the importance of that unity among the body, now let’s look at some implications of unity. 

Implications of Unity 

As with any raised standard comes implications, some good and some bad.  In 1985 my parents dropped a bundle on an IBM XT.  It was blazing fast.  It had a 4.77 MHz Intel 8808 processor and because my dad was hardcore it had 256 KB of RAM.  Incredible!  Now for less than my parents spent I have in my office a modest laptop that has a 2GHz processor and 2 GB or RAM.  In fact, my processor has a little storage system on it called an L2 Cache that has just a little less than have the storage space of my dad’s HD.  With raised standards expectations.

The standard has been raised.  And with the standards raised in concern to relationships between believers we need to look seriously at some of the implications. 

Colossians 3:12-13 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,  13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.” And look at Ephesians 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called,  2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Ecclesiastes 7:8   “patience is better than pride” Notice in all of those pride takes a backseat to relationship within the body.  We need to look at our actions and make sure pride is not the motivation behind our dispute.  I know that you have probably never witnessed it personally, but in other churches there are some prideful people.  And I have seen it tear the body down.  And when the body is torn down we cannot minister effectively, worship fully, or live with the peace that Christ wants us to live in.  As much as you or I may not like it we need each.  We need each other in a way that Christ himself says is SUPER important. 

One story and then I’ll finish.  I don’t want this to sound like I’m super spiritual b/c I’m not.  In case you don’t know me I can be pretty… straightforward.  It’s not always nice and when I was younger and much more immature it was down right mean at times.  I have hurt people that were my brothers and sisters in Christ.  One of them was a kid by the name of Shawn.  I’ll just say that he had a pretty horrible home life and guys like me didn’t make things better.  One day he came to mind and tried hard to put him out of my mind.  But God wouldn’t let that happen b/c the next week he sent me a friend request on a social networking website (ask your kids or grandkids if you are not sure what that is).  HE sent ME a request to be his friend on that site!  I accepted and God gently reminded me of all of the junk I had put him through.  One night I couldn’t take it any longer and wrote Shawn an apology for everything I could think of.  I admitted I was wrong and said I was sorry.  The rest was up to him, the ball was in his court.  He waited several days and wrote me back that all was forgiven.  Today, we are not best friends, nor are we even really good friends.  But he doesn’t have anything against me and the body is healthier than it was previously.    

1 Samuel 15:22  2 Then Samuel said, "Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; paying attention is better than the fat of rams.

Romans 14:19 19 So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.

Let me challenge to make peace with your brother or sister who you know has something against you.  You can’t control the outcome, but you need to do your part.  If that means you miss Bible study, beating the crowd to Dion’s, missing a TV show, swallowing your pride, admitting your are wrong, or even just admitting that the other person might be right.  GO, leave your act of worship and make things right. 

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