RECONCILIATION is something I believe in; it’s also something everyone wants to believe in. This is the case because we all need to be able to reconcile matters that estrange our minds, hearts and souls.
A mind, heart and soul estranged from itself is an especially broken person in great need of healing.
The only way reconciliation is achieved is through repentance — not always, but most often a two-way street in relationships. The person guilty of the greater sin should always justifiably go first (but it doesn’t always work out that way).
And all repentance is to be proportionate with the immensity of the sin.
A pastor, of course, is to be considered as held to a higher standard. But the following quote also shows a principle that should apply across the board — i.e. to anyone.
Our repentance ought to be commensurate with our wrongdoing:
“When a preacher of righteousness has stood in the way of sinners, he should never again open his lips in the great congregation until his repentance is as notorious as his sin.”
— Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892)
As a “preacher of righteousness” I am under no false allusions. Nor should any of my peers be. We should all stand ready to be condemned for our behaviour, because we know — at our core — this terrible truth: we are sick and we are only made well in this life that has won us to virtue on the proviso that we know our plight in this mortal life:
“The one spiritual disease [is] thinking that one is quite well.”
— G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936)
A person who knows their propensity to ill is a person who plans and prepares for sickness — both the prevention of it, and their cure. One measure is for the ‘health’, and the other is for remediation unto reconciliation. The former is for oneself directly and for others indirectly. The latter is strictly for others, directly, though we may also benefit in pouring contempt on our pride — from a repentance that fits our crime.
The practical steps involved in repenting notoriously enough to extinguish the effect of the sin are:
ü Assume a position of absolute vulnerability and transparency.
ü Confess every sordid thing you can think of. (It is likely that once you start you will open something like floodgates. Do not shrink in fear. Have faith in the cleansing properties of confession. The fuller the confession, the more effective the healing.)
ü Make no position or provision of protection for yourself. Be at the other person’s complete mercy.
ü Be remorseful about not only the behaviours of sin, but their underpinning attitudes. In other words, go deeply into your sickness. It’s the only way it will be expunged!
ü Remember repentance’s first step is of the following. The word repentance (Greek: metanoia) means to turn from one way of behaving to another. Repentance is not just saying sorry. But saying sorry is part of repentance.
LORD, hold me and my ministry friends to account so we do not sully Your gospel in the name of ‘ministry’ and hurt Your church. It is Yours, not ours. And, make us capable of an appropriate repentance if/when the appointed time comes. AMEN.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement to Gordon MacDonald’s book, Rebuilding Your Broken World.