Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Is My Command...

I've been writing some letters these days.

At the risk of stating the obvious, I'll mention that reverse culture shock has been really, really hard for me. It's so easy to justify sin when things are stressful, and any sin, no matter how seemingly trivial, hurts our relationship with God. Honest self-examination before a God that I know really loves me is so healing at these times. Healing comes full circle at the point of confession and repentance. How awesome that his grace is new every morning!

But one thing to consider is this - many sins we commit day to day are sins against other people, too. And as long as we ignore the effect that lies, selfishness, pride, lust, gossip, etc. have on our closest friends and family, we won't truly be free from sin and its consequences.

I've recently written two letters, and can already think of one more I need to write, where I do just that. I confess the things that I did to hurt the other person, clearly and honestly. And I apologize, both for specific, named actions and words and for the motivating attitudes behind them. It's really intimidating, but so far, it's been so powerfully healing.

I've learned from many recent mistakes that I can't really apologize when I'm too busy pointing out to the other person what he's done wrong to me. And you know, I do think there is a place for lovingly confronting someone, but that's not been my problem. My problem has been me saying something to this effect: "Well, yeah, I did that. And I shouldn't have, I guess. But you've done all these things, and have you noticed what I'm going through these days on top of all of that?? I mean, what do you expect? I'm not perfect!"

I've learned that this is not what God calls us to. It's true - relationships have dynamics that are way beyond our personal control, like another person's actions or reactions. But to make that an excuse to not do the things that are in our control is not being Christ-like. "If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" Romans 12:18. This is not a cop-out; this is a command to do whatever is possible. How often do we really do that?

Back to my point. We as Christians are to be ministers of reconciliation. We proclaim the good news of how to be reconciled with God. And the very same Bible tells us news that if we aren't doing whatever we can to be reconciled to our brother, than we are hypocrites. I still have a long way to go, and I hope to God that next time I remember to be slower to anger and quicker to seek peace. But by God's grace I'm taking some steps of faith. I hope this encourages you all to do the same.

"[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." - 1 Corinthians 13:5-6

"This is my command: Love each other." - John 15:17

Your sister,
Brettin White

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