Reconciliation: restoring broken relationships and making enemies into friends.
Reconciliation has been on my mind a lot in recent days. There has been a lot of conflict in Eastern Canada between Mi’kmaq lobster fisherman, who are exercising their rights as outlined in our treaty agreements, and non-treaty lobster fisherman, who are fishing as outlined under Nova Scotia law.
Trying to summarize where this conflict all began is difficult. The history is long and messy. People on both sides are unwilling to listen and learn …
The conflict has continued to escalate. It has included racial slurs, dis-respect on both sides, violence, the burning of a business that supported the Mi’kmaq fishery, property damage, vehicle damage and the waste of thousands of lobsters … very messy. These listed above are mostly material things, but we know from the story of God in this world that there is much more at stake than the material.
Some of the people involved in this conflict are people we know personally, and have tried to share the love of Jesus with.
Reconciliation was important when we lived in Nova Scotia and ministered among the Mi’kmaq people twelve years ago. It has not diminished in importance today.
Many people groups talk about reconciliation, many people want to see relationships restored, however, few people are aware of the need to invite Jesus to accomplish this in their own families, communities and in their country. Reconciliation is hard. It takes time … a lot of time. It takes the willingness to lay down our own pride and willingness to listen … really listen, until we understand well, and are well understood. Most importantly we must understand the heart of the Father for His children.
Father God was and is willing to do all it takes! Reconciliation is what Jesus accomplished for us with His life, death, and resurrection from the grave. It is also what we are unable to accomplish on our own. As Jesus opened the way for us to be reconciled with Himself, He also opened the way for us, as humans who constantly break things, especially relationships, to be reconciled with each other. The cross leveled the playing field. We are all equal in God’s sight … all in need of reconciliation with God and with each other. The cross has made that reconciliation available to us all.
With His blood, the Bible tells us that Jesus made reconciliation with God possible for every tribe, and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9).
What does reconciliation look like in action? For us, at Healing Hearts Church, where we now serve in Nipawin, Saskatchewan, it means that everyone is welcome! We have a diverse group of people who meet regularly to encourage each other as we all follow Jesus. This community includes people with a wide range of life experience and several different nationalities. Not only are we welcome to attend, we are welcome to come as we are … as God created us to be, and as broken as we have become, to experience together the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in each of our messy lives!
About a year ago, a friend of mine with whom I attended Bible College, stopped by our church on a Sunday morning. He serves as a missionary with North American Indigenous Ministries on Vancouver Island. After giving his testimony and interacting with the people, we began talking after the service. He mentioned that he personally had seen Native churches, and he had seen Caucasian churches, but he had rarely seen intentionally integrated churches like ours. This was a compliment to our church but not completely accurate, as we have seen and heard testimony of God reconciling races through His body, the church, all over the world! Praise the Lord that our little community can be a testimony of what He is doing even here in Nipawin!
It is our heart’s desire that our church grow to represent the people who live in our community. Since there are diverse people who live here, we want to create an atmosphere in our church that reflects this fact. We want people to feel welcome and unified under Christ, because of Christ!! We want to live out in fellowship, the truth that Ephesians 2:15-18 talks about:
“15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
This is God’s intention for the body of Christ, that we not be divided, but rather that we be unified by the grace of Jesus. This is easy to write about but practically IMPOSSIBLE outside of the power of the Cross. People are great at breaking things! Broken things are hard to fix! Only Jesus is the healer!
We are constantly reminded in the scriptures that it is the Grace of Jesus that empowers us to keep serving Him in everything we do. We must look to Jesus to help us hear and follow HIM in HIS ministry of reconciliation to which we have been called!
Blessings in Christ,
Marsden and Mandy Giesbrecht
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