Reflection on Reconciliation Image

By Paul Wetzig, Mission Development Partner

I was invited to write this reflection exploring how we can live lives of reconciliation and love in the midst of our polarised and divisive world while preparing to preach on the very well-known passage, John 3:16-17. As I prepared my sermon, I took time to read The Message version of the text; “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

As I reflected on this interpretation, I was struck once again by the massive implications of Jesus incarnation, particularly in light of the idea of embodying reconciliation and love in our world. The fact that God loved the world enough to take on human flesh for some crazy reason! Why? Why would God want to be like one of us? Like a stranger on a bus? I've recently been working with the really helpful idea I picked up somewhere while reading, that in trying to achieve something it helps "to begin with the end in mind". Essentially, it's the idea that if you know what you're aiming for, you've got a better chance of hitting it! It was as I reflected on these two things together, the power of John 3:17 struck me.  "He [the Son] came to help, to put the world right again."

At its heart Jesus’ ultimate goal is reconciling humanity to God, each other and to creation. To put the world right.Restoring those broken relationships so that "whole and lasting life" can be re-discovered. So what we see in the life of Jesus is this intent lived out in a very real way. Through the Gospels, we discover that Jesus came to a particular place, at a particular time. In the seemingly insignificant land of the Jewish people, God learnt the local customs, culture and religious practices of the people. In the incarnation, Jesus discovered the deep pain points and longings of those around him. Then through word and deed, joining with the activity of the Spirit already present in the world, Jesus revealed God's new way of being in that world - the way of sacrificial love.All this done "to help, to put the world right again."

For me, Jesus' incarnation reflects the extreme depth of God's love for the world and what reconciliation looks like in practice. Through God's willingness to take the time to listen and learn what love meant for 1st Century Jewish people and act on it, to the point of sacrificing everything for them, we see what it means to truly and deeply love those who are "other" to us. However the story doesn't end with Jesus. Jesus’ instructions to those who claim to follow him, are to go and do the same.

As disciples of Jesus we are now tasked to explore our unique time and place, learning the customs, culture and religious practices of the people around us.We are encouraged to listen for the deep pain points and the unfulfilled longings that reside within the hearts and lives of those around us. Flowing from this we need to then look, listen and sense the activity of the Spirit at work in the world and join with God, through word and deed, in helping to put the world right. Embodying Jesus’ way of sacrificial love. I believe that this is what it means to live lives of reconciling love.

To follow Jesus example, as The Message sets it out in John 1:14, and join "The Word [who] became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood."To find where the Spirit is at work and partner with God and others in putting that neighbourhood, my neighbourhood, right again. For me, this has meant volunteering fortnightly at my local YMCA helping to sort and prepare food hampers for those who are in need of support as crisis overtakes them. It means weekly attending the playgroups at my church, not to do anything other than be present to the families who are there. Listening to their needs, sharing my knowledge of the wider community and joining in the wonder of play with toddlers. This is what I think it means for me to live a life of reconciling love in the midst of our polarised and divisive world.

To discover the ways that I can embody the divine, reconciling love that I have experienced in small ways, beginning maybe with my own family and immediate neighbours, so that together we can create welcoming communities of those who have discovered whole and lasting life to share with others.

I pray that you will join with me in this and share your stories of the reconciling community of Jesus being made real in your neighbourhood.

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