Finding opportunities for reconciliation and re-creation.
Jesus spent a lot of energy defending the people who came to him wounded by guilt. Guilt isn’t the fault of the law, he argued. The law was a good thing, a picture of what is right and wrong, the ideals of life in the reality of God. But some guilt-makers used the law to gain an edge for themselves over others.
In effect, Jesus said to those people, if what you want in life is power over others, then that will be all you get as your reward.
And you will never know what you have lost.
This was the background for Jesus’ beatitude-proverbs and his sermon on the mountainside in Matthew’s Gospel. Don’t walk over others. If someone treats you as an enemy because he thinks you owe him a coat and thrusts guilt at you, give him the coat and your shirt as well. Be a peacemaker, Jesus urged, and you will go beyond the law’s requirement to its real intent.
I grew up thinking that the reconciliation of Jesus had to do only with being forgiven of my guilt and sin so I could get right with God. But being reconciled to God opened up a vast array of new possibilities, and that whatever remained of my lifetime called for me to work at reconciliation in my world—with my family, neighbors, enemies perceived and enemies real, the environment, the body public; in fact, every element in the world around me.
I was to “work out my own salvation” as the apostle Paul put it, by taking up the calling of every other human under the sun—to become as Christ to the world, to be a maker of peace, a reconciler, a forgiver of sins and transgressions.
Is this a great calling, or what? Not living as hustlers in the rat race, but as children of God in his total reality, as active peacemakers. And by opening ourselves up to God and his realm, his grace is there for us—abundantly. As the Gospel of John puts our evolution in grace, all who accept the new reality are given “the power to become children of God.”
So what is required of us? Nothing but the willingness to practice—for the rest of our days—being another “child of God.” Then guilt becomes just what it is—an opportunity for reconciliation and re-creation.Excerpted from Fairfield’s memoir, Frog Hollow Journal and used on the Shaping Families radio program, a ministry of Third Way Media. Used by permission. Read more through Shaping Families Update, a weekly e-mail available at www.Thirdway.com/subscriptions.
James G.T. Fairfield