Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reconciliation (Part IV)

By Odon Bulamba (2 May 2003)

There was a man once who had a servant in his house and one day the servant made a mistake and the man had him arrested. The servant stayed in the prison for many years. The longer he stayed in prison the better the officers would know him and one day he was given the responsibility of the prison. One day his previous master was arrested also and was put in the same cell as him. The servant said, “Here I am – the boss. I control all the prisoners in the jail. You were my boss yesterday but today I am your boss. Tomorrow you will wax my shoes and the day after tomorrow you will iron my clothes.”

It was like revenge and many Christians live like this. They try to promote revenge rather than promoting reconciliation. They don’t have time to think about the glory of the forgiveness of God but they always think about what has happened to them in their past. They are ready to hate others and become murderers.

When Esau and Jacob became separated, Jacob left to live somewhere else but one day he returned and he saw his brother from far away coming towards him with 400 men. Jacob was afraid so he put his servant in the front line with his children. He put Leah with her children, put Rachel and Joseph in front of him and then he was at the back. And after that God touched him – “Why do you sacrifice the life of all these people when it’s you who has the problem with your brother?”

He found himself guilty and put himself out in front. He went forward and before meeting his brother, he bowed down seven times. And when his brother saw him he jumped. He ran and Jacob thought to himself, “Today I’m dead. This is the end for me.” And the Bible says that his brother embraced him and maybe people around thought he wanted to strangle him. But he was smiling and Esau said, “I’m really happy to see you.” Jacob said “Because you are here, take this I have prepared this as a present.” But Esau said, “No, I don’t need your presents. I’ve got many goods that God gave me.” But Jacob insisted.

I (Odon) meditated on this one day and Jacob didn’t give the presents because he wanted to, but because he was afraid. Finally his brother accepted his gifts and they left. And you know what Jacob said? He said, “I cannot go your speed because I have children and animals. So let me walk at their speed. And as for you, we will meet together some time.” But his brother said, “I cannot leave you alone. It’s better for me to give you some servants to go with you.” And Jacob said “No, go with your servants, I will come.” And Jacob didn’t go to meet with his brother as promised; he took another direction and lived somewhere else.

From time to time when we have problems with family and friends, when these brothers come back to us because we are ashamed or afraid we flatter them with words. We flatter them with our gifts and when they say, “Let’s live together in the Lord”, you say, “I’m a little bit busy, I cannot walk your speed so go and I’ll follow you.” “I’m Sylvie’s friend but we live at a certain distance. I’m Michelle’s friend but we just met at church on Sundays.” So is there any reconciliation between you or not?

And if there is no reconciliation how are you going to accomplish what is written in 2 Corinthians because that’s the message we have been given. Take the message of reconciliation everywhere in the world. We who are saved, we are told to take the gospel everywhere. This is easy – everybody can preach, everybody can talk about the gospel. But for the Christian who is mature, he is asked to take the message of reconciliation.

How many people do you know who have problems with others? And how many times have you tried to reconcile them? Or do you say this is not my problem. What do you do exactly? When Christians have problems with their God, do you reconcile them? When Christians have problems reading the Bible or praying; do you reconcile them? Jesus has come to reconcile us with God. He has given us a message first and he accepted to bear our burdens. Do you also accept to bear the burdens of others? So when I meet Lebon who doesn’t read the Bible, do I encourage him to read it? Do I also accept to bear his burdens so that he might be reconciled to God? When I find someone who doesn’t know how to pray, do I kneel myself to pray for him and bear his burdens?

One day David was in the kingdom of the Philistines and he was fleeing Saul. He became friends of a certain King, Achia. And the Philistines had to go to war and David too with his 600 men started marching in front of the king to go to war. And all the Philistines said that David would not go to war with them. They didn’t want to see him there. So they asked their king to tell David to go back to where he came from. So the king said to David, “I loved you, I know you and I know your life. I also know that since being with you, you have never made a mistake but people around here don’t love you. So you have to go back.”

David took his soldiers and went back. He arrived in the city and found the city looted and all the children, women and wives had been taken away. His 600 men who were with David turned their faces against David to the point where they wanted to stone him because he had sold the life of their families. And David cried. Everybody cried. But out of God’s grace, David said, “Bring the Lord’s documents and I will see them.” And he asked God, “What can I do? May I follow the looters or not?” God asked him to go.

On their way, something happened. They met an Ethiopian who was very hungry. He had spent three days and three nights without eating and this man was brought to David. David asked this man who he was. But before asking him, David gave him something to eat and drink. The man said, “I was asked to attack the kingdom of Judea and destroy and take everything but because I fell sick on the way, I was left.” David said, “Through the one who is sick and hungry, I can find information.” And this man gave David all the information he needed to find his own people. The condition was for David not to kill him.

David arrived at the place and found all the families and goods. But when they went, 200 soldiers where tired and they stopped on the way and when David came back with the victory and belongings, David said, “200 men are there, we must share the goods.” And others were not happy and didn’t want to share the goods because they had stayed behind and didn’t participate. But David said, “We have to share with them because they belong to us.”

Reconciliation must be shared with everyone. Share your reconciliation with the poor, get reconciled with the rich, with those who are tired and be reconciled with those who are hungry. Many people have the courage to ask for forgiveness from their boss for example, but they don’t have the courage to be reconciled with simple people.

So with God, without reconciliation nothing will work. If you have never practised reconciliation in your Christian life, it’s now the time to practise it. It’s true that forgiveness is there, but try to get reconciled with everybody. It’s true that there are disputes between people but try to get reconciled with their families. It’s true that there are many unbelievers in this world but try to get them reconciled with their God.

This is a mission that is given to us. It is the simplest thing of everything. It’s not politics or the reconciliation made by ministers or ambassadors where you have to write reports and study all the factors. It’s just a question to go and to talk and that’s it. It’s about being ready to forgive and forget.

I always remember what Michelle who works for Child Youth and Family used to tell me; in her work they talk about closing the files. It means that when there has been a situation that has lasted a few days, people do everything they can to find a solution and the lasting solution will be to close the file. For example a child has been taken away so the child will be given back and the problem will be over. For example, if something is not okay in a family, people will be reconciled together and everything will work out. How many files have you closed in your life? How many files have you closed in the life of your friends and family?

So to be a good counsellor; the one who reconciles others, you must first get reconciled with God and be reconciled with those around you and through that you will help others to get reconciled. Keep taking the gospel around but add a little bit of reconciliation when you bring the gospel.

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