One of the most challenging verses I find is “when you go to offer your gift at the altar and you know your brother or sister has something against you, first go and be reconciled before offering your gift”. These come from the lips of Jesus himself.
Do people have something against you? (Very different from you justifying your own conduct to yourself). Is there someone, or a group of people, who maybe you need to offer out a hand of friendship and reconciliation to? Perhaps people are missing from our fellowships because of things we have said or done? Is their hurt or damage that needs (as far as you are able) to be repaired and restored? Maybe at Christmas write a note within a Christmas card to mend areas that have been broken? Perhaps too let’s go the extra mile offering a hug, or a present to show the sincerity of our apology and desire to see the family United.
The hardest word is to say the word sorry to one another, yet we confess together each Sunday in our liturgy, yet I do wonder sometimes whether deep down we actually believe we ourselves are sinful. Jesus wants his Church to seek first the Kingdom of God and to be “one as you and I are one” –unified- and this was the prayer of Christ, sweating blood at the Garden of Gethsemene.
Sometimes pain can leave us deadlocked, two people or groups have a blind spot unable to see the others point of view, maybe in that horrible and messy situation you need to be the bigger and better person and reach out? It’s a risky thing as although Christians should want to be reconciled with one another sadly the fallen-ness of this world and our on fractured humanity means it doesn’t always happen as it should. Yet forgiveness is so important not just because it pleases God, but also because unforgiveness literally eats us up inside.
Scripture says “by this all people will know you are my disciples that you love one another”, as we think of Jesus the very embodiment and personification of love, love with skin on.
A challenge for 2017 is for us all to be more like Christ; to be that community that looks like him, that acts like him, that welcomes like him, that is generous like him, that speaks like him in love, truth and kindness, that goes the extra mile, and does so with a smile.