A PROCESS OF CHANGE
The word “reconciliation” refers to the process of recognizing that we have the desire to do what is good, but we cannot carry it out and the process of recognizing that it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. The bottom line is that it is not our process but God’s process. He can do a much better job of changing something thoroughly and He can adjust everything to His standard.
A KISS (keep it simple stupid) example would be to adjust your watch to a time signal. What you are doing is reconciling your watch to a time standard. Or when you reconcile your checkbook, the standard to which you match it is the bank’s record of your account. On rare occasions the bank must reconcile its accounts to yours. But these are things that we can do.
In the Bible, reconciliation is the word used to refer to the process by which God changes us and adjusts us to the standard of His perfect character. Romans 11:15 refers to the “reconciling of the world”. The Greek word is also used in Rom. 5:11, where scripture says “but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Note that we are not active in the process of reconciliation and we provide nothing toward.
Reconciliation also appears in 2 Corinthians. 5:18 with the meaning of “reconciling someone to someone else.” In this case, God reconciles us to Himself, through the Lord Jesus Christ. It appears that our only part in this process is to willingly accept Jesus Christ as the only pathway to change. For it is by the death of Jesus on the cross that the world was changed in its relationship to God, making man savable.
Before Christ died, God could not deal with our fallen nature. Therefore, reconciliation is only possible in one way, and that is God’s way.
FORGIVE US AS WE FORGIVE OTHERS
An important part of reconciliation is the requirement that we are willing to forgive. The prayer pattern that Jesus left us is found in Matthew 6:9-13 this is where reconciliation begins, “and forgive us our sins as we forgive others”. What a profound statement. But, wait that’s not all that we have to do in order to experience the process of reconciliation. Step 5 in the 12-Steps says that we are to admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT
Not so fast. You and I know that it is easy to say “God please forgive me.” But we both know that the way we can tell God anything. Often the Addictive Mental Process kicks in making us believe that we can continue to harbor our deep secrets. Well reconciliation is not like that, so we must get use to the fact that we must confess to another person that we can trust not to divulge our private matters.
Here are some basic things to help soften the reality of the fifth step:
- It is necessary to examine your conscience. It’s the examination of conscience. Unless you examine your conscience, you don’t know what you have to be sorry for and what to confess. An important thing to remember is that we are loved by God, and we can hear the voice of Christ saying go in peace, your sins are forgiven. This is what Jesus does. This is his gift of reconciliation.
- Reconciliation also suggests the deep peace that comes from being brought back into harmony with God, with our sisters and brothers and with the whole of creation.
- Reconciliation is the formal announcement of what we want. Is what we want to rejoin our relationship with God?
- Reconciliation works best when you have already achieved some degree of being reconnected before celebrating. Confessing “I am an alcoholic” is no substitute for accepting the identity that I am a grateful believer of Jesus Christ and struggle with _____________. Or to say my spouse and I have started to yell and hit one another is no substitute for seeking marriage counseling. Or to tell your confessor, I get so angry when the neighbor’s children play outside my bedroom window when I am trying to sleep, is no substitute for speaking to your neighbor and explaining your needs.
- For example, if you are meditating on the story in John’s Gospel about the cure of the man born blind, you might confess that you are sorry for the times that you have been blinded by the desire to win the approval of others.
- There is joy when a sinner repents. What is loosed on earth is loosed in heaven and what is celebrated in heaven is celebrated on earth. How things have changed! I never thought of a party when I confided in and divulged my secrets. But then, my focus was on what I had done and not on what Jesus does”.
OFTEN A PAINFUL PROCESS
God’s process of reconciling doesn’t happen in an instant. Reconciliation is often a long, sometimes painful process. It is a round-trip journey away from our home with God and back again.
People who turn to God in conversion (second step) will never be the same again, because conversion implies transforming the way we relate to others, to ourselves, and to God. Unless we can see that our values, attitudes and actions which are sometime imbedded in our beliefs, we will never see a need to change or desire to be reconciled. That?s a harsh statement but a true one.
But this does not leave us without hope because when we discover our values, attitudes and style of life that we presently have we realize that we are “missing the mark,” and so we begin with the next step that of contrition. This step moves us to the next leg of our conversion journey: breaking away from our misdirected actions by making a 180 degree turn around, leaving our mistakes behind and making some resolutions for the future.
IN WHO’S IMAGE
Our attitude toward reconciliation is intimately related to our image of God. We really need to believe that our God is not waiting to trip us up, but is ready to reach out in forgiveness. We need other human beings to help us realize what confusion there is within opening our hearts to a new light. Those people who are considered sponsors or spiritual directors are not faceless but are guides, compassionately helping us experience and publicly state the mercy of God in our lives. In some ways that person fulfills a parental function of understanding of “having been there and done that.”
You know sometime it is really hard to sin because sin involves making a conscious decision to turn away from God and God’s goodness. You do not sin when you simply make an honest mistake. On the other hand, sometimes sin can come quite easily, especially when you’ve let bad habits such as lying become part of your behavior.
God has given you a wonderful freedom to love him, his creation and everyone in it. Fortunately, sin doesn’t have to have the last word in your life. You can repent and turn back to God. The Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ is there to help you make that move. Through his death, Jesus rescued humanity to the Father.
However absolution does not work like magic. Luke tells the story of a sinful woman who sought out Jesus. He was eating at the home of Simon the Pharisee, a well-established and self-righteous man in the community, when this sinful woman showed up at the dinner party. Luke 7:36-50. She was considered a terrible sinner and an outcast. Many of us feel the same. We ask ourselves, what are we doing by asking for forgiveness especially after we have led a guilt ridden life? Luke 7:36-50. “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
A THREE POINT PLAN
- O.K., so you blew it. Being repentant is the realization that you’ve made a mess of something in your life, and you want to clean it up. So get busy, get a broom.
- Find that one person that you can trust. When you confess your sins, you’re not telling God anything God doesn’t know already. The point is to be honest, to actually hear yourself name those ugly sins out loud and in the presence of that trusted person.
- We’re not done yet. Willingly accepting the consequence and/or penance for those mistakes/sins is completing proof of your true sorrow. It is a way of expressing your sincere sorrow, a way of “putting your money where your mouth is.
If you have followed a renewed heart the words of absolution recited over you will renew your inner peace. Paul assures us that “whoever is in Christ is a new creation. This promise is from God who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
Have a happy journey!