A great sermon this past weekend has sparked some good conversation in my home.
Forgiveness is different from reconciliation is different from restoration.
Forgiveness takes only ONE person – me. I can forgive anyone from my end. I don’t need to hold a special meeting or have a long conversation. Heck, the person doesn’t even need to be alive. Forgiveness doesn’t say whatever it was that happened is right or ok or even forgotten. We are still human, so forgetting is not an option. Forgiveness says I will not hold on to it. I can decide to let God be the judge and jury and just let go. I don’t need to wait until I “feel” like forgiving. There are a lot of choices I make that I don’t “feel” like. Fact is, I may need to make the choice and let my ‘feelings’ catch up. Maybe I have to forgive the same thing over and over until it finally settles into my heart. Forgiveness is canceling the debt and setting yourself free.
Reconciliation is TWO people deciding to forgive and move toward one another. Forgiveness is the prerequisite for reconciliation, but not a guarantee for reconciliation. Reconciliation does not mean all the issues get resolved and trust is automatically restored. Reconciliation is a willingness on both parties to let go and move toward harmony. I can be reconciled to someone and agree to disagree on things and still be civil and enjoy the moments of life together. I can be reconciled to someone and not have full trust. I can be in the same room, share the same experiences and care for a person I am reconciled to without inviting them into the deeper parts of my life.
Restoration is TWO people deciding to forgive and a rebuilding of trust with the goal to RENEW the relationship. Restoration takes time and experience; no easy pass, no quick fix. Truth is – trust is something that is built over time. It can be broken in an instant but takes time to develop. Trust is what we all want to have and what we all want to give in our most important relationships. My relationship is restored when I can once again be vulnerable and trust.
FORGIVENESS is the foundation to dealing with broken relationships. Jesus died for the forgiveness of every sin. Jesus reconciled us back to God. Jesus restores us to a right relationship with our Heavenly Father. When we accept Christ, we can freely approach the throne of God not because we are good but because we are forgiven, reconciled and restored.
If Christ has done this for me, I have no excuse not to forgive.