As I have been spending time thinking through my life and where I am at today, the thing that makes me MOST SAD is broken relationships that have never been reconciled or still evoke bad feelings when I think about them. I have been thinking a lot about this lately in my life and ironically enough there are several people in my life who are currently struggling with broken relationships. It is a common problem and we all share the common heartache over them. Why must relationships be so difficult? Why is it so hard to reconcile with people who have hurt us or who we feel hurt by? Why do we even have to hurt each other in the first place?!
The answer is sin and it can’t be avoided. What does that mean? It means that there is no person on this earth who will live a life free of tension and conflict. Because of our ugly, selfish, sin natures we are all going to hurt and be hurt. In the Bible it says that we fight because we want something and don’t get it. What is it that we want? Respect, love, honor, loyalty, fairness? And when we don’t get it instead of turning to God who is truly the only one who can give us those things, we turn against the person who we perceive is holding those things back. When we are in the midst of it our actions and emotions make perfect sense. But the bottom line is that it is sin.
Psalm 133 says that living at peace with others is “good and pleasant” and that it is only when we live at peace with one another that we will fully experience God’s blessing and life. I know this is true because there is a void in my life where there are broken relationships. When I think of them there is a dull ache inside me that tells me it is not how it was meant to be and that God’s blessing is not there. Hence, the great sadness I feel over those broken relationships.
While there is so much that can be said about broken relationships, I am going to just say a few things for now. The Bible speaks often about striving for unity and peace with one another which tells me that we should live our lives very aware of the fact that we will be prone to not live at unity and peace with one another. It should not surprise us when we have problems and disagreements with others, especially those who strive to live by higher standards. It should not surprise us that we are tempted to say bad things about how awful others are and desire to distance ourselves from them. If it were not so then the Bible would not talk about it so much.
In Ephesians we are told to, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Wow. If we actually lived out those words in our lives then we would NEVER have broken relationships!! What he is saying is that those who have the Spirit of God in them are able to live at peace because of it. We are not alone in our endeavor to be humble, gentle, patient, and peaceful. We have the ability to do it.
At times in my life when I have felt threatened or hurt by another person I have found in me the fear that they could ultimately hurt me or damage who I am and how others see me. This fear is often what causes us to put up our self-protective defenses. But Psalm 129 reminds us of something very important, that even if I have been “greatly oppressed” by someone since my childhood, “they have not gained the victory over me…the LORD is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” If you are a believer in Christ then you can trust and know that the LORD will and is protecting you. When we are hurt by another person the Psalmist says to “wait for the LORD” and to put your hope in Him. Instead of focusing our eyes on that person, the situation, or what we fear will happen because of it, we must focus on the LORD and hope in Him.
The most important thing in all of this is that we are not just encouraged to live at peace with one another, we are commanded to. When Christ was asked what the most important commands to follow were, He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….and love your neighbor as yourself.” And we are motivated and enabled to do this because God has done it with us. He is the only one who has a right to keep a record of our sins, but He still forgives. It is because of His forgiveness and love of us that we are able to forgive and love others. He forgives us of ALL our sins and gives us FULL redemption. As we focus on what God has done for us and the joy that is found in that, it overshadows our desires to be at war with others and gives us the motivation to forgive and love. And when we forgive someone who has hurt us we are filled with joy, because we are carrying out God’s will for us and because it is a reflection of His forgiveness for us, and that is beautiful.
The truth is that reconciliation is what being a Christian is all about. We are Christians because God was willing to reconcile with us. And we show this as we reconcile with those who have hurt us who do not deserve to be forgiven. But we must remember that because of this the evil one hates forgiveness, unity, and reconciliation. So he will fight to keep you from doing it. He will fill your minds with thoughts and make it seem ridiculous and impossible to reconcile. And he will always be luring you to hate, judge, and hold grudges. So we must fight it with all that we are and remember that He who is for us is greater than he who is against us.