June 27, 2011

How Then Shall We Live (#2)

The Ministry of Reconciliation
The trouble with making this a mini-series on this topic of forgiveness is that I've had time to wonder if this is really a good idea. And I've had time to attempt to add my own angles and spin to it. I have repented of that and am just going to go for it and post what I wrote in my journal.

Here it is in it's raw and inspired form:

We have a mandate to forgive, but this mandate is not an end in itself. The goal is not to forgive and then move on. The goal is to forgive and allow trust to rebuild. This is the ministry of reconciliation in action.

Winter Has Come
Before I go further, I want to say that there are some instances when the ministry of reconciliation is only possible in a spiritual sense, where you pray for your enemies. It is not always wise to attempt to build trust with people who will continue to hurt you in the same manner without professional help. I am not speaking to this type of wounding. If you need help, here is a link to some resources.

Reconciliation is a two-way street. If we have been hurt, we cannot reconcile with a person who is unrepentant for their actions. You can however, act in the ministry of reconciliation, as Pastor Steve did, by praying daily for their hearts to be healed and for them to come to a place where they can see the wrong they've done. It's possible that God will work in your heart, as well, showing you areas where you may have perceived things in a way that the other person did not intend.

On the flip side, if we have hurt someone, we cannot reconcile with them until they are ready to release trust in some measure. Of course, full confidence will have to build again over time. In fact, in these situations, trust is often lost on both sides and will have to be regained. If two people are willing, trust can be rebuilt.

Spring Has Come
If you have been hurt by another person's actions, here are some steps you can take to forgive when you are ready.

1. Go to the one who hurt you, either in person or on the phone is best, and tell them what they did to hurt you. Give specific examples, using the "I-message" model: "I felt _____ when you _____." Try to avoid "you" statements (basically, starting a sentence with you).

2. If they exhibit the "Five R's" of a good apology (Regret, Responsibility, Restitution, Repentance, Requesting Forgiveness), then confess that you accept their apology and let them know that you will pray about how to begin repairing the damage done and rebuilding the bridges toward trust and friendship.

3. In the quiet of your home, say a prayer to release forgiveness.

4. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to extend trust again, and obey His prompting.

Summer Harvest
If you're not ready to do these steps all the way through, then wait upon Him until you are. There is no rush. While you wait, ask the Holy Spirit to help you forgive. Ask Him how to walk in the ministry of reconciliation. Ask Him to help you live a lifestyle of forgiveness and extending trust.

There are endless ways our fellow man can hurt us, but there is only one way to be healed--forgiveness with the goal of reconciliation. You may need help with this. As I said before, some people are not "safe" to extend full trust to again.

If you need help, be sure to turn to someone who practices the ministry of reconciliation and not someone who stops short at Jesus' mandate to forgive. The key to freedom is learning the art of extending trust once again.

Autumn--All Things Must Die
Here is a song that drives it home for me: Eyes Wide Open (Jars of Clay).

I wrote an addendum to explain the context of these photos I chose.

1 comment:

  1. There's much wisdom to be found along this path of forgiving and reconciling.