19 Oct Ministering Reconcilliation
I recently watched a movie in which a mother was trying to ‘cure’ her son of homosexuality. She took all his privileges, his car, destroyed his credit cards and sent him out of her house. She asked him not to return until he was ready to change his lifestyle. She believed she could cure him using coercion and intimidation. Needless to say, her efforts were fruitless. She was going about it totally wrong. (For more information on tackling homosexuality, I once wrote an article on ‘when love is not a right’, where I talked extensively about the gay movement) For those of us who seemed to have lived a ‘good’ life, one where we never had a criminal record or became an alcoholic or ever traded sexual favors, it might be a little difficult for us to keep from casting the first stone at other people. But if we are Christians, then God has made us ministers. If we are quick to judge, then we cannot minister reconciliation effectively. And the change we are hoping to see in the people around us will never happen.
So many of these people have tried on their own to overcome sin and failed. Even if they haven’t gone for 12 step programs, they might have made resolutions. They might have made promises to themselves and to their family but were unable to keep those promises. That’s because sin doesn’t always respond to willpower or having good intentions. There’s only one cure for sin. The redemptive power in Christ’s blood.
In ministering reconciliation to people, we need to be compassionate. When these emotionally devastated people confess that they had sinned again, we must not react by adding to their condemnation. Instead of saying, “I can’t believe it—here we prayed and believed God, and you didn’t have enough faith. Straighten your act up. That’s all it takes,” we can say: “He is ready to forgive you again. His power can cleanse you. Accept His love and have that willingness to change. Even if you fall of the wagon, you can climb back up.” It is far easier to let those words, “just quit” come out of our mouth. But then we will not be ministering reconciliation. It’s just as well telling a depressed person: “Quit being depressed!” If it were that easy, then we would all be slim, strong and disciplined.
Attitudes like that are emotionally destructive. If we want to be effective ministers of reconciliation, we must release people from their condemnation so that they feel free to go to God with their problems. After they have genuinely repented and seen the error of their ways, we need to tell them to let go of the guilt they feel so they can accept God’s love and His gift of redemption. Then we need to keep encouraging them to stay on the path.
Next time you’re tempted to condemn someone else’s lack of control or berate them for making some bad choices, remember the grace you have been given and say to yourself: “There, but for the grace of God go I.” You would have been speaking perfect truth.