Here in this particular part of the series on the ministry of reconciliation, we see that the speaker has been aware of the full scope of his message. It is good to see someone see the outlines of what they are dealing with and get a sense of the contours and terrain of their message. One of the striking elements of this message, and indeed this series of messages, is its focus on relationships. I do not consider myself to be a particular expert on relationships. I have a terrible ambivalence between a deep longing for intimacy and connection on all levels with other people in friendships and romantic relationships, and the same with God, and also a deep terror at being too vulnerable to wounds, being a deeply scarred person with a dark personal past . This ambivalence between fear and longing has not made it easy for relationships for me, and this series of messages has dealt rather squarely with the nexus of that problem and the ground on which the difficulties in my life spring.
Of particular personal interest to me was the way this message discussed the question of offense and was targeted at the person taking offense. What must we do internally do be a peacemaker? The speaker, wisely, notes that in dysfunctional conflict that both parties have damaged each other. If one party was comparatively undamaged, they would be able to forgive because they were not hurt. It is easy to forgive when one is undamaged, as a sign of strength. There are some who are sensitive, like popes and Thai kings, who feel it necessary to give pageants of phony reconciliation in order to show themselves as merciful rulers. Yet we are often deeply hurt by the wrongs committed against us. This message hit me personally on a different level than the first one did, as someone who has caused offense and deep suffering with others. This message examined the difficulty of being the one offended, of one who has spent plenty of time in dark places wrestling with the damage done by those who have sinned against me.
I do not feel that I am the best judge of my own graciousness to others. I don’t know the extent to which others can see the peace of God in me, or the way in which others have struggled to find the peace from God themselves before going to me about my own offenses. Do I walk along the way of peace? Despite my own devotion to the studies of military history, and my own self-knowledge of my ferocity in conflict with others, I ponder if I am the sort of person who can be trusted to be a peacemaker, someone who can help bring God’s mercy and love to a world broken by its own sins and by the sins others have done to it. I know I live in a world full of broken people, broken marriages, broken families, and broken congregations. I am no less broken myself than those I see around me . How do we recognize the way that God has been merciful enough, despite everything, so that we are able to be merciful others? I do not want to be a person that holds on to a little debt and ends up suffering for my own massive debt that I owe to God that is more hopeless to repay than my college debt.
When I think about the person who recommended this series of sermons to me, I feel a great sense of compassion. This speaker talks about the damage that people suffer because of the hostility of their parents to each other. Both her and I have suffered deeply from this, and my own knowledge of my suffering gives me a great deal of compassion for her own, and for my other friends who suffer the burden of that brokenness. Being a person who grieves for my own losses, I also grieve for those who have suffered like me. I hope, though, that I have not placed a great burden on this person or on others that harms their own relationship with God, or makes them think that God is unjust simply because of my presence and role in their own life. I do not want someone to be consumed with bitterness because God has been merciful and gracious and generous to me. In the case of the young woman who found this series of messages so useful, I hope I have not made it difficult for her to seek God’s way and seek to be baptized. Having lived under heavy burdens, I am especially disinclined to heap burdens on others.
The author gives some worthwhile questions for us to ask ourselves when we are trying to deal with someone who has sinned against us, to reconcile with them and re-establish a godly relationship with them: What is the Christ-like response to this situation? Am I overreacting? Am I acting in this situation out of frustration because my desires aren’t met? Is my pride injured? Is this an offense I should simply overlook? How did I contribute to this conflict? These are all questions I often ask myself and will work in asking myself in any future difficulties I have with others. Perhaps those who have awkward or dysfunctional relationships with me could ask themselves these questions and hopefully we may all better overcome the difficulties we have in this life, that we may avoid bitterness and that we may be reconciled to each other and build good relationships based on mutual love and respect. I cannot think of a single person on this earth with whom I would not want to get along and enjoy getting to know in the Kingdom of God as a brother or sister in the Family of God. I hope the same may be said of me.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: