Reconciliation

Voice 1

Reconciliation in our own strength normally fails.

Let me explain by looking at a few recent attempts at manmade reconciliation

Perhaps the most famous reconciliation in recent years is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up in post-apartheid South Africa as an attempt at reconciling white and black South African and avoiding the bloodshed of other African nations which moved from white control.

Yet in 1999 a member of the commission warned that if the government failed to act on the recommendations contained in the report, the prospects for reconciliation could be badly damaged.  She said the treatment of victims who had appeared before the commission had left her "bitterly angry and ashamed".  The TRC's deputy chairman admitted that divisions remained:"It is true - most whites do not like or trust blacks. And likewise, most blacks are deeply suspicious of whites - with some cause," A newspaper editor said that while the TRC had produced "a few moving examples" of reconciliation between human rights abusers and their victims, "such reconciliation had not found resonance across the country".[1]

And in 2014 one prominent black South African wrote:  The classic failure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was its inability to achieve economic redress for the black majority of South Africans…The unintended consequence of the TRC is that it has allowed white people to walk around without guilt while black people are clutching on a fading rainbow nation dream. (Rhulani Thembi Siweya  Founder of Africa Unmasked and an NEC member of the ANC Youth League.)[2]

See, reconciliation does not work.

 

Voice 2

But let’s turn from man’s way to God’s way:

Under the heading of ‘ministry of reconciliation’ Paul wrote to the church at Corinth

2 Corinthians 5: 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

So God can reconcile us and he has given us a ministry of reconciliation.

Voice 1

But I repeat we cannot do reconciliation in our own strength. Let me choose another example. What about the Palestinian reconciliation talks.

In December 2017 it was reported: For more than two months, the Hamas-Fatah "reconciliation" agreement that was reached in Cairo in October has been hailed by many Arabs and Westerners as a sign that the Palestinians were finally marching forward together. It turns out, however, that the dramatic announcement of the agreement, which was reached with the sponsorship of the Egypt, was all a bluff. Those in the know about the Palestinian world predicted that the latest "reconciliation" deal would fail. At least five previous agreements between Hamas and Fatah, reached under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen over the past ten years, likewise failed. Every one of these agreements was stillborn, not worth the time it took to uncap the pen.[3]

See reconciliation doesn’t work.

Voice 2

Ahh, but again, turning from man’s attempts and looking again to God

Paul wrote to the church in Rome:

Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

God has brought reconciliation through the death of Jesus.  That is what we celebrate this Good Friday.

Voice 1

Be that as it may, nearer to home, and topical for Baptists as our National Assembly called the Hui visited the village of Parihaka last year, is the reconciliation settlerment for the injustices of the Government troops at the Taranaki village of Parihaka in the 19th Century

A news report in 2017: The Parihaka community in Taranaki [met] with Crown officials, including the minister of treaty settlements, to hear an apology, and to receive a reconciliation package of $9 million…The events of Parihaka in the late 19th century provide “a damning indictment of a government so freed of constitutional constraints as to be able to ignore with impunity the rule of law, make war on its own people, and turn its back on the principles on which the government of the country had been agreed,” stated the Waitangi  Tribunal in 1996. “For decades, the shameful history lay largely buried in obscurity.”[4]

 

Yet still today even with that agreement signed between the Government and the people of Parihaka, the residents look outside the strict confines of their village to see lands confiscated by the Government and sold to Pakeha, each farm now worth far more than the total settlement payout, and the residents remain dispossessed of the land

Voice 2

Paul when he wrote to the church at Colossae:

Colossians 1:19 For in him [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. 21 And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him

God can reconcile and has reconciled all things to him.

But I agree that without God, our human attempts at reconciliation with one another most often fail.

Voice 1

See I told you. Even our own attempts at reconciling ourselves back to God through the letting of blood of entire herds of cattle and sheep and goats and doves did not work. Even though it was God’s way of getting us to reconcile with him our attempts have been an abject failure, not on God’s part but because of our hard hearted attitudes.

Isaiah 1:10 Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah. 11"What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. 12"When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts?…

And our attempts at reconciling with God through our worship are a failure for the same reason – us and our attitude.

God says through his prophet Amos 5:23"Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. 24"But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. 25"Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, O house of Israel?…

Voice 2

God is the only one who can reconcile humanity to himself through Jesus his son.

Hebrews 2:17 Therefore in all things he had to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Today we remember the sacrifice of Jesus to reconcile the world back to God

Voice 1

So, we agree then: We cannot effect reconciliation with God through anything we do but Jesus can; but there is a role that we have at this time of reconciliation as well.

Matthew 5:23Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.…

Voice 2

 Yes and in…

1 John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And we have this commandment from Him: Whoever loves God must love his brother as well.…

On the cross, Jesus asked his Father to forgive those who were killing him, because they did not know what they were doing. And before he died, his last words were “It is finished.  Reconciliation was complete.

Today we give thanks to God for the way of reconciliation he made for us through the death of Jesus, his son.

We ask God to reveal to us those to whom we need to be reconciled with.



[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/420372.stm

[2] http://www.africaunmasked.org/2014/07/25/the-truth-and-reconciliation-commission-trc-a-failure-in-redressing-2/

[3] https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11594/palestinians-another-reconciliation-bites-the-dust

[4] https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/08-06-2017/a-place-for-returning-injustice-legacy-and-reconciliation-at-parihaka/