Truth can be told in an instant, forgiveness can be offered spontaneously, but reconciliation is the work of lifetimes and generations. ~ Krista Tippett in Speaking of Faith
On a recent visit to Rwanda, I was speaking to a man who was an advisor to the Rwandan government and a Christian leader before and after the genocide. He was telling me about the reality of the church in Rwanda. He told me that the Sunday before the genocide, 92 percent of Rwandans were in church. After it was all over, he wondered how he would ever preach again. What could the Church say? How could they gather people in churches that had been part of and complicit in such a great injustice? But it wasn’t long before he understood what they needed to say. The possibility of a new future soon dawned on them.
Rwandans needed a place to go with their grief. With their sorrow. They needed a place of healing. Someone to help them carry their suffering. Other Rwandans needed a place to go with their shame. With their guilt. With the blood on their hands. They needed to find some forgiveness. Where can people go for that? What can reach that depth of pain and stain of guilt? This is when the church in Rwanda began to discover the relevance and power of what Christians believe to be the center of their faith: the Cross. They began to preach the Gospel by telling people about what Jesus had done on the Cross.
This is so important for us right now. It’s not the Church that is the answer, and we know that now. We watch in dread as church leaders are named and shamed and church structures and attitudes side with oppression. We watch in shame as those who are guilty are shunned from the very places they might find forgiveness and restoration. We’re stunned as Christian leaders have been exposed as complicit in the destruction of healthy relationships between women and men.
The Church without the centrality of the Cross is just a community group.
But the Cross, that is where true power is on display for the deepest wounds of the world. The deepest wounds in us. When it comes to deep-seated injustices, there is only one place to go that might lead to healing and unravel the oppression that has held us all. There is only one place to go that might spur us to the hope of a different future, to change, to repentance and forgiveness and reconciliation. It’s the Cross.
Jesus embraced the Cross as a demonstration of love and power personified. It is power to break the back of sin, shame, guilt, fear, and death. And it is love to soothe and heal shame, suffering, abuse, and pain. It is the place of transformation.
No matter who we are, the oppressor or the oppressed, we will find what we need to get free from oppression’s tragic cycle. We will find this freedom in the person of Jesus on the Cross. On the Cross Jesus reconciled the whole world to Himself. C. S. Lewis described how when Jesus died on the cross, time itself began to move backward.1 What he meant was that Creation could now be restored to everything God had originally created it to be. When we think of the consequences of humans acting selfishly, we can follow a trajectory that began in the Genesis story of broken relationships. First between humanity and God. Then between men and women. Then between siblings, then between tribes, and this repeats itself until we find ourselves at this point in time, in a world tragically divided. What is the remedy?
It’s a transformational idea to suggest that our restored relationship with God would begin to restore our relationships with everything and everyone else. Indeed, it’s the Gospel.
A good description of the Gospel itself is the “ministry of reconciliation.”2 Can we imagine a reconciled world? I think right relationships are good news for this life.
To be reconciled means that our relationships are made right. But relationships that are broken need repair. And repair takes effort and time. The righting of broken relationships (reconciliation) needs some guidance. Too often we think that powerful spiritual things happen by “magic.” But they don’t. They happen through grace and loads of work.
1,“The Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time,” WikiNarnia, the Chronicles of Narnia Wiki, based on The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, https://narnia.fandom.com/wiki/The_Deeper _Magic_from_Before_the_Dawn_of_Time.
2.See 2 Corinthians 5:18.
Excerpted with permission from Better Together by Danielle Strickland, copyright Danielle Strickland.
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Some relationships may seem like reconciliation is a complete impossibility. With the Gospel, through the Cross, in Jesus that is no longer true. They can be made right… with grace and work! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about how we can be better together! ~ Devotionals Daily