As I read 2 Corinthians this week, I couldn’t help but think of a trip I took several years ago to see the work Rwandans were doing to rebuild their community after the grievous genocide of 900,000 people.
Neighbors were murdering neighbors, teachers killing students, churches were turning on their congregants, whole communities were participating in vile acts against those of the “wrong” tribe. I was appalled by the stories which felt unrecoverable and incredibly hopeless, “How could they even begin to recover?”.
I learned that because of the overwhelming arrests that overcrowded the prisons, they needed a different solution for all those that were arrested. The proposed answer would come by smaller community courts where the murderers would have the opportunity for recognition of wrongs, repentance of sinful actions, and moving forward in reconciliation. Incredibly , many of these people often went back to the same communities they sinned against, and were welcomed back into the fold. The stories of reconciliation are remarkable.
In 2 Corinthians 5: 11-21, we learn how powerful reconciliation is. On one side, you have humans who don’t deserve forgiveness and on the other side , you have a Holy God who can not stand unholiness. When God sent his son, a great sacrifice, it meant death would bring all of us life. We are later instructed that when we recognize that God has physically done this for us, we are given the power to physically extend the same grace to others. Even a step further, out of the power of God’s forgiveness, we are then able to reconcile with those who have sinned against us (or vice versa) and move forward in relationship. That’s good news for broken relationships!
We live in a very polarized, “are you in my tribe?” world. It seems that neighbors are against neighbors, families against families, and sadly even the church has participated in encouraging disunity. The answer for unity is not to demand others think like us, vote like us, and decide to live out their lives like us. The answer, according to these verses, is to remember the unity and friendship we’ve been given in Jesus and from that, extend unlikely friendship, forgiveness, and relationship to those around us. It’s miraculous when you think on it.
God would you give us this kind of supernatural forgiveness towards our friends, neighbors, classmates, families, and congregations so that when others see our love and our unity, they are drawn to the love of Christ? Will you convict us where we have not sought out peace, and where we have actively pursued disunity in the body? Change our hearts so that we may think only of drawing people to you and nothing else.
I joined the (in)courage community as a (in)courage contributor this week and shared my first article for them: File this Under Things I don’t deserve.
I’d love to have you join me over at (in)courage! They value building community, celebrating diversity, and becoming women of courage and I.AM.HERE.FOR.IT!