Monday, September 24, 2007

Broken: Connection

Yesterday, we continued our series at h2o called broken. We have been looking at how "The Fall" resulted in a series of broken relationships that we still suffer from today. Last night we talked about how our relationships with one another were broken as a result of sin entering the world.

You may be familiar with the story of Cain and Abel, and how Cain slew his brother because he was angry with him, and resentful of Abel's favor with God. How often do we carry a grudge? Is there a person in your life that you carry resentment toward.

Jesus said that when we are angry with our brother, we commit murder in our hearts. He also told us that if we know there is an issue we've got with someone, go and make amends quickly. Even if we are about to leave an offering, reconciliation with our brother/sister takes precedence over that offering.

I don't think we view reconciliation as such a high priority though. We allow bitterness to form toward others. The picture above was taken in a country called Rwanda which is in Africa. There are two tribes of people in Rwanda, the hutu and the tutsi tribes. There was a long history of bitterness and resentment of the hutu toward the tutsi. In April 1994, the Hutu let their anger and resentment take over. In a period of days, 800,000 Tutsi were killed. This skull represents a young person who was killed with a blunt farm instrument. Women and children were slaughtered in the streets, in homes, and even in churches. There was no safe place from the bitterness and resentment from their fellow citizens. Indeed, our connection with one another was severely devastated, and this shattering of our relationship with one another continues to be seen in our world.

And while most of us could read this blog and tell ourselves that we would never murder someone, perhaps we end up doing something nearly as devastating. We live in superficiality. Rather than pursuing rich relationships and friendships with those around us, we find ourselves holding grudges, and keeping our relationships with others on a superficial level We want to avoid conflict, and so we hide ourselves away from it. When someone hurts us or offends us, we keep quiet, and we keep that friendship superficial. We begin to build walls around us, and even separate ourselves from our neighbors with stockade fences and gated communities.

In the end we don't murder others, we leave ourselves isolated and alone. And yet Jesus tells us to be reconciled. To forgive as we have been forgiven. The Cross has put to death the enmity between us and God. It has restored us to a better understanding of our God given identity. And it has put to death the enmity that exists between us and others.

Maybe there is someone you need to be reconciled with. Jesus tells us to do it quickly. So maybe you need to talk to that friend or that neighbor or that relative or whoever it is, and work to make things right between you and them. You know, if you don't like someone, and you end up spending eternity with them, that might be pretty awkward.

Rob Bell, a pastor and author, said it this way, "When I respect the image of God in others, I protect the image of God in me." When we move toward reconciliation with others, we honor Jesus, and we become more like Him, and we treat others with the God given dignity they deserve. Go and be reconciled with that person you are holding a grudge over. Stop being superficial and stop committing murder in your heart!


BigMama said...

This is so true!!! I remember when my husband and I were dating, I'd just ignore little things that bothered me. Rather than saying that X thing offended me or bothered me or had hurt me, I'd just tell myself that it was nothing major and I'd pretend it didn't bother me. Of course, over time, these things would pile up until such a time as they all came out in a huge, nasty mess. Praise God we learned to be honest with one another and our relationship is better for it.

Murder, whether by sword, anger or simple superficiality is most assuredly not God's design for us. And while it's hard, hard, hard to be honest about what hurts us, it's so much better! May we all learn that lesson.

batdog said...

Don't you wish there was a holiday based on the concept of forgiveness, where people could gather together and address, confess, and forgive the liberties they have taken, and the injustices they may have participated in or given birth to in their imaginations?

chanchanchepon said...

Big Mama--It is definitely not God's design for us. As we let ourselves become known, we protect ourselves and others from our destructive tendencies.

Batdog--it would be amazing if such a holiday existed. I knew of a group of people who once gave lip service to such a holiday . . .

BigMama said...

batdog -- Wasn't that pretty much the point of the Jubilee year? While I'm not all that interested in going back to the OT standard of living, the year of Jubilee always struck me as one of the single coolest things EVER.

Slaves set free, debts forgiven -- brilliant!