Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
The Bible mentions reconciliation a lot. We ought to assume then that it is important to get to grips with what it means. Here and now, we are called to reconciliation. The text is clear; don’t sweat the offering or the pious posture approaching communion if you can’t be in a posture of embrace with those around you.
In all interactions, we are acting out one of two things, exclusion or embrace. In exclusion, we are holding a party at a distance, bypassing them, alienating them, or otherwise diminishing them in ways, which communicate their lack of standing in our estimations. We do it unconsciously; unwittingly most often but sometimes we do it intentionally.
Alternatively, we may exercise embrace. Our City Mission emphasis on the hospitality of the Kingdom is a practical exercise in the practice of embrace. To show due regard for a person not based on status or your personal opinion but because they are an image-bearer of the almighty. To not exclude but include, not bypass look past or ignore. We are commanded to embrace, it is key to reconciliation in the small things and thus in the greater things also, hence the gift at the altar.
We Christians can be experts in passive-aggressive behaviours. We know we cannot be seen to be being outwardly aggressive or openly combative but I regularly see how we have hidden our rage only to have it manifest in super-sneaky ways. These behaviours are the practice of exclusion.
Reconciliation is the act of bringing things into agreement or alignment. God through Christ brings us into alignment with the Father and not because we deserve it either. Who are we holding at a distance whose soul might be blessed by being brought in and embraced? It isn’t complicated is it?
In every interaction, in the world around us or within our faith communities, we are in the business of reconciliation. In all things, this week consider; are you practicing exclusion or embrace? Are you mimicking the heavenly reconciliation or perpetuating the fracture of the world?
For a more detailed piece on the themes raised please read ‘Exclusion & Embrace’ by Miroslav Volf. (or similar)