the challenge and cost of reconciliation

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“You give him one more chance, just like the time before, but he already knows you’ll give a thousand more.” Alicia Keys, Lesson Learned

For about three years I was offended with a friend of mine who had betrayed me. I carried that knife in my back for such a long time that the wound got infected and began to poison my other relationships. I could feel my heart hardening as time passed. So I decided to forgive.

But we were never ever ever getting back together.

You see, I was willing to let go of what had happened but I wasn’t interested in restoring the friendship. I had some really legitimate reasons for keeping her out of my life, we used to be really close but now our lives would be separate and that was okay.

What about reconciliation?

I know you have some really good reasons why you will not reconcile with __________. I do not doubt that you can justify your decision. But I have some thoughts that will challenge you.

I want to share the stories of three men with you. Each of them lived thousands of years apart from each other, each of them embodied reconciliation.

from prisoner to prime minister.

How did a man born into a wealthy family end up a convicted rapist? You might call Joseph’s life a series of unfortunate events but that would be an understatement.

Firstly, Jo’s brothers took sibling rivalry to another level. Moved by jealousy because Joseph was their father’s favourite (and a little bit of a show off), his brothers sold him into slavery. Read the Bible from Genesis 37 to get the full story.

Joseph went through hell, including being falsely accused of rape by someone’s wife after he refused to sleep with her.  Because of his gift of interpretation of dreams, Joseph was released from prison and became a top Egyptian government official.

But that’s not all. Years later, Jo’s brothers stand before him needing his help. There is a famine in their country and they have come to beg for food aid from Egypt, from this Egyptian official who they do not realise is their brother.

From terrorist to Tata (of a nation).

By now we have all heard the story of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who, together with others, spoke out against the system of racial segregation called apartheid in South Africa. Arrested and tried for treason, he was released from prison after 27 years in jail.

He spoke out on behalf of justice, a voice for the voiceless, and in return he was deprived of not just his physical freedom but his relationships and he never lived a ‘normal’ life. His marriage was sacrificed and he missed out on fathering his children.

As President of a democratic South Africa, he had more power than he could have ever dreamed. Justice and history were on his side and his enemies, those who had passed an unjust sentence on him and millions of black people, were at his mercy.

What would you do?

No one would have blamed Joseph for sending his brothers away in anger, he owed them nothing and they did not deserve his kindness. But what Joseph did was extraordinary. He revealed his identity to them and agreed to give them the food they asked for. Later, Joseph went even further and said:

“Don’t be afraid, am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

Mandela is known in South Africa as the “father of the nation” and one of the greatest inheritances he has left for the nation is one of reconciliation. From the first day that he took office until his passing, Mandela lived and breathed reconciliation, going further than forgiving his enemies, he made agreements with them and worked with them.

Reconciliation comes at a great cost but achieves a greater purpose.

Both Joseph and Mandela reconciled with their enemies at great personal cost. Remember, they were never compensated for their lost years.

Reconciliation is always given as a free gift at a great cost to the giver. And the lives of these two men point to one other man, the greatest Man to ever walk the earth, who at the cost of His life reconciled us to God:

“God was reconciling the world to Himself through Christ, not counting men’s sins against them…” 2 Corinthians 5:19

Are you challenged?

Thanks for reading.
shula

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