I had never heard anything like it. During an elder’s meeting, a disagreement occurred. The pastor was far from happy. In fact he was boiling mad with steam pouring from his nostrils. If looks could kill, the elder in disagreement with him would be dead on his feet. Before anyone knew it, the pastor struck out and hit the elder so hard that he fell to the ground and had to be transported to the hospital.
Two weeks later someone from the head-office came to that church to set things straight. The members were astonished when the representative told them they had to honor their pastor above all else. No mention was made about reconciliation or about loving one another.
Jesus has a completely different point of view on this: “If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.” (Matt 5:23-24, MSG)
Our priority above all else is reconciliation. After all, didn’t we walk away from our Father and wallowed in misery because of our bad choices? We became estranged and thoroughly lost. Who is the One who reached out to us? Our Heavenly Father Himself. He send His son to show the way to reconciliation, even paying the price of our own offenses, so that we could be reconciled again with our Father.
If someone has a good reason to strike us, it is God; but He didn’t do it. Instead, He reached out to us with love and compassion. Reconciliation is everything to our Father. Nothing else is anywhere near as important.
I learned this on a personal level myself. Just after the birth of our first son, a member of our church came to us and asked if he could borrow 500$. In those days, 500$ was quite a lot of money, and since he seemed genuinely in distress, we lent him the requested sum. Within a week he disappeared, and we never heard from him again. I felt hurt and betrayed. Initially I, too, wished I could strike out at him, something that I would never ever do. Fortunately, I realized that there were far more important matters to attend to. Even though I could not meet him in person, I did the second best thing, I forgave him from the heart.
Forgiveness is the way to achieve a bountiful life. It’s far better than wallowing in self-pity and hatred. After all, if this is so important to our Father, it should be imperative to us as well.
Can I borrow 1000$?
Do you see my fist?
Which one? The one closed up in anger, or the one that is wide open in forgiveness? The choice is ours to make!
(To access the entire “Majestic Mountain View” devotional series, please click here.)