As Christians we are called to be reconciled to one another. This issue is very real in most of our Christian fellowships. What am I to do if a sister or brother sins against me? According to Jesus, we are to go to that person and have an honest, loving conversation about the brokenness of our relationship while remembering that the purpose is reconciliation, not judgment or punishment. If that fails, take one or two fellow Christians in order to broaden the conversation but not to overpower the sister or brother. If all else fails, then involve the Christian fellowship. Remember that the emphasis is upon reconciliation rather than browbeating or overpowering.
If all fails, today’s reading tells us to let them be to us as a Gentile or a tax collector. Is this a call for shunning? That sounds harsh coming from Jesus until we remember that Jesus tells us to love as he loved. How does Jesus speak of outcasts and tax collectors? He shows compassion and extends love to them. He often is accused of associating more with tax collectors and sinners than with the righteous. That leads us to remember that Jesus never gives up on or shuns anyone. When Peter asks Jesus how many times he is to forgive, Jesus says seventy-seven times. If we are to pray for our enemies, how much more should we continually pray for reconciliation?
A Guided Meditation: Get comfortable and relax. Take several deep breaths, and rest between each of these suggestions: Remember and give thanks for God’s reconciling love. Give thanks for friends. Are there people with whom you need to be reconciled? Name them. Give thanks and pray for them. Are there those from whom you need forgiveness? Give thanks and pray for them.
We move forward in the story of Moses to the climax in Egypt, the tenth plague. God tells the Israelites to prepare for the terrible night to come and establishes the feast of Passover. It is to be an eternal reminder of what God has done for the people. The psalmist praises God for faithfulness and victory, including overthrowing those who would oppress them. Egypt is not mentioned specifically, yet the Passover represents just such a situation. Paul echoes Jesus in summarizing much of the Law in one simple commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus provides practical teaching on handling disagreements. Our first responsibility is to go to the other party privately and then include others only as necessary. Gossip and social media are not the ways to handle our disputes.
Read Exodus 12:1-14. How has the story of Passover shaped your faith?
Read Psalm 149. How has God called you to seek freedom from oppression for yourself or others through praise and through action?
Read Romans 13:8-14. What does it mean to consider love a driving force rather than a warm feeling? How does this understanding change the way you act toward yourself and your neighbors?
Read Matthew 18:15-20. When have you participated in or witnessed true reconciliation? How did you see compassion at work?
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