“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” –LUKE 15:20
The parable of the prodigal son is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I can identify with it. I too was one who ran off to do foolish things – only to come to my senses and return home to the welcoming arms of my heavenly Father. Being reconciled to God is one of the most profoundly beautiful experiences of my life. And it is because of my reconciliation with God that I want to help others find this most important relationship.
But God also created the body of Christ to be unified and reconciled to one another. I am told in 1 John 4:20 that I can’t love God and continue to hate my brother. When I look inward, I see my selfishness, pride and judgmentalism. Yet God calls us to “make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit” (Eph. 4:1-4).
Jesus calls me to a life of authenticity in which my life and my actions tell the same message – the message of Jesus. But I can’t successfully live the Christian life in my own power. It is only when I let Jesus direct my life and I live in his power available for me each day that I can live in unity and harmony with other believers.
My life has been so enriched by godly men and women who showed me the importance of reconciliation and unity in the body of Christ. When have you seen this process of reconciliation and the uniting of people demonstrated in your past? How did you respond?
Early in our marriage, my husband and I were members of a church whose leadership was also passionate about bringing reconciliation between the races in our state. I will never forget our pastor on his knees in tears humbly asking for forgiveness of the Native American tribal leaders whom our government had wronged. It was a powerful time of corporate confession, and at the end, these leaders extended their forgiveness. Something happened in the heavenlies that day. We heard several months later that the Spirit of God was moving among the Native Americans who lived in our area. While no one from these tribes had become a believer in Christ for years, they were now responding to his offer of salvation!
Being a member of a racial reconciliation group has been a powerful experience in my life. To gain another perspective and see the world through someone else’s eyes has been life changing. I’ve come to realize that reconciliation and unity is hard work, and it is necessary to address the hurts and gaps between us and together to seek godly justice. It takes commitment and the willingness to talk and walk through the conflict together. But it is possible when we each submit ourselves to our Father.
Where is reconciliation needed in your life? What could you do to bring unity and reconciliation to your situation? Whether it is disunity between the sexes, the races or the nations, God is the one who can bring reconciliation and healing. It is Jesus’ sacrifice and love that bridge the gaps between us and make us one.
//Liza Hall is the international prayer coordinator for TWR Women of Hope