The message of reconciliation

  • Mar. 5, 2011 6:00 p.m.
.

.

Starting this week, Christians of all stripes and colours will be keeping Lent, a period of preparation that culminates in Good Friday and Easter.

For 40 days (Sundays excluded), followers of Christ will reflect on the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord.

Lent is a time of devotion, which we observe by acts of charity, fasting, prayer, self-examination, repentance, and Bible reading.

At the beginning of Lent, we hear the words of Psalm 32: Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed are they whose sins the Lord does not count against them. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away … Then I acknowledged my sin to you … and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Is this really necessary? I believe so.

“We don’t get along with one another. We never have. And we are not getting any better. Cain started it off by killing his brother, and we’ve been at it ever since,” writes pastor and author Eugene Peterson.

Sin manifests itself is injustice, oppression of the vulnerable, exploitation of the poor, misuse of natural resources, greed, and our sloth and unwillingness to get involved. Sin is evident in all our relational and behavioural problems, in substance abuse and reckless behaviour, in crime and domestic quarrels.

But sin, at its core, is a relationship gone wrong.

At the root of our failures, to get along with one another and to live in harmony with the created world, is our failure to get along with God.

Our biggest problems are not economical, political or environmental. Our deepest problem is our alienation from God, which also separates us from one another.

The world does not need new ideas and initiatives as much as it needs reconciliation with God. The world’s need is for more than righteous leaders and courageous citizens who are willing to stand up against injustice. Our deepest need is to be reconciled with God.

The central theme of Lent is reconciliation; the historic truth that God in Christ reconciled the world to Himself; that God has done everything necessary for the relationship to be fixed.

God cleared the way, removed the obstacles. God made Himself vulnerable to us.

Reconciliation is costly. It begins at the cross.

Why would God do this?

Because God is not just a higher power or supreme being; God is not just the life force, or energy that drives the universe.

God is a Person – in our Christian understanding a community of Persons (Trinity) who exists in perfect relationship.

God is a Person who seeks wholeness in His relationship with us; who looks on the trouble we get ourselves into, the damage we cause to the environment and to each other, the mess we make of life (for which we so quickly and conveniently blame God), and has compassion on us.

He sent his Son. In Christ, God made the sacrifice and judged our sins.

In Christ, God reconciled us to Himself. In Christ, God loves us.

Gerard Booy is minister of Haney Presbyterian Church.