“Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.” Hebrews 3:1
I have been blessed with only a limited amount of genuine grieving in my life. Frankly, I’ve done a whole lot more consoling of others than I have needed consoling myself. But you don’t have to be an expert on grief to know that it has a profound effect on our ability to see truth. In fact, a part of the healing process is learning to look through the pain to some larger truth which, difficult as it may be to grasp in spite of the pain, still has a way of guiding us.
But did you know that the grief process is not reserved only for individuals? Churches grieve also. They grieve the loss of a much-loved leader, the loss of a ministry or program, the loss of a “way of doing things”, the loss of unity…all of these can cause a type of grieving process for a church. And like the grieving process for an individual, a church’s grief can be unpredictable and unrelenting. It can last a few days or a few years, perhaps even an entire generation. It can cause the church to do and say things it doesn’t mean to do and say. But most of all, just like the grief process for anyone else, it is painful…unbearably so.
Moreover, grief has a way of disorienting us, both as individuals and as congregations. It turns up into down and right into left. It leaves us not even knowing which way to look for direction. It is chaotic and complex and confounding.
So, it is in the pain of real grief where we are often left with little orientation …
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
I believe the most difficult thing about the process of reconciliation is getting started…going to the brother in the first place. Most of us can think of hundreds, maybe thousands of reasons why NOT to do it. “He’s the one who needs to be coming to me…when he does, we can talk.” “Why would I go back to her to talk about it? She’s the one who hurt me in the first place!” “He won’t listen. He never listens. It won’t do any good.” “I don’t want to put our friendship in that kind of jeopardy.” And the excuses go on and on and on. But none of them are good excuses, especially in the face of ALL the scripture that tells us we must be reconciled to each other as Christians. Hey, if you are waiting on a word from God about whether or not you should go to your Christian brother or sister and be reconciled, all I can tell you is…pick up your Bible and read it.
God’s call to you to go and be reconciled to your brother is every bit as clear as God’s call to Jacob (Genesis 31) to go back to the land of his father in order to be reconciled to his brother Esau. If you know that story, you know …