Corporate Worship and Reconciliation: Peace

    Series: 52 Reasons
    February 21, 2021
    George Robertson
    Colossians 3:15–17
    And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

    In June 2012, an amazing act of sportsmanship occurred in the Ohio Division III state high school track meet. Seventeen year-old Meghan Vogel from West Salem-Liberty had just won the 1600 meter with her personal best of 4 minutes, 58 seconds, but she only had an hour to prepare for the 3200. About halfway through she ran out of steam and dropped to last, just hoping to finish.

    When she made the last turn she saw Arden McMath, a sophomore from Arlington, wavering and near collapse. Meghan mustered her strength and propped her up.  She helped her up to the finish line like a wounded soldier and then Meghan pushed Arden over the line in front of herself. The fame took her by complete surprise and she refused to be called a hero. “That is reserved for people like Harriet Tubman,” she said, “I just did what I knew was right and what I was supposed to do.”[1]

    This is an image which should shape our approach to worship. We come not with what we can get for ourselves but what we have the privilege of doing for our brothers and sisters out of love for Christ. Not only must we serve God in worship, we must serve each other. And Paul provides several reasons from the Gospel for doing so.

    According to the Bible, the first priority for Christian living is reconciliation within the body of Christ. Jesus even says that it is the primary apologetic for convincing people of the truth of Christianity (John 13:35). While there may be many perceived problems, none is as important in the Lord’s economy as living at peace with brothers and sisters in Christ. His warnings convince us of that. 

    For instance, Jesus says that a gift will not be accepted at his altar if one is unwilling to leave it in order to pursue reconciliation with his brother. Paul adds that that there is no ministry without the ministry of reconciliation. Peter exhorts husbands to be reconciled with their wives lest their prayers go unanswered. And John says it is impossible to claim that we love God whom we cannot see and not love our brothers whom we can.

    But there are some people who are difficult to love, to say the least. Even if we know from God’s Word that our responsibility is only to pursue reconciliation, not necessarily to ensure reconciliation, it can be extremely difficult even to make a motion toward someone who has hurt or offended us. Where then will we get the motivation and power for pursuing God’s highest priority within the church? Paul says it comes through corporate worship. It is in corporate worship that we especially realize two critically important truths–peace and unity. Let's look at peace today and unity next week.

    First, we understand that we must have peace with one another because God is at peace with us. Not only does the Bible say that we were at war with God, it also says that God was at war with us. However, at his initiation, God’s son became the peace child to bring about our reconciliation. God allowed his son to be killed by our sin in order to fulfill all justice and make it possible for us to become his children. That means there is no excuse for an unwillingness to be reconciled with anyone, regardless of the offense.

    No matter how egregious the action against you, it can never be worse than your sin against God, which killed his only begotten son. That explains Jesus’ warning in the parable of the unmerciful servant—if we refuse to forgive someone else of his debt against us God will withhold his forgiveness from us. Regardless of how great the interpersonal debt, it can never equal our debt to God, which has been forgiven through the blood of Christ. 

    Paul says that we must live at peace with one another as much as it depends on us. But while he relieves us of total responsibility for the other person’s reaction, he lays on us the expectation that we must pursue every means at our disposal. That includes continuing to go to church with the one whose presence you find difficult to tolerate. 

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