It surprised me, this anger that I thought I had thrown away. The hurt that I thought I had gotten over…moved on from…far away from. This anger that still had me, the frustrated emotion I was clenching so tightly in my fist.
I do not believe in airing grievances. (Well, not specific ones anyway.) But I will say this, the Church is responsible for many a broken heart. From how we (Yes, I am including myself I am part of the Body of Christ.) do business during the week, to how we fail each day to live for Christ, to how we present ourselves holy and ready to worship on Sunday.
I am a victim of the church, (church in this sense meaning the individuals who actually make up the body of believers) my heart has been broken multiple times. But it was not until semi-adulthood that it was shattered to pieces. So I called my dad.
I was angry. I was spitting out words. I had never seen ministry at such a shallow level. Or been treated in such an unloving way by followers of the God who is Love. No matter how hard I prayed to find God’s goodness all I could find were stains on the Bride of Christ.
For the first time in my life, I understood why people stopped going to church. In truth, this understanding is what shattered my heart- how could something so holy and lovely, something that I treasured become so perverted and polluted?
But we are a perverted and polluted people. My dad reminded me of that.
This morning, as I read through Ephesians I found a revolutionary common thought; a simple truth that explains (to me anyway) a much bigger picture- the movement of man.
In verses 12 and 13 we are described as alienated, far off, and without God. Pretty devastating words for a man proclaiming hope.
But then, the words- my favorite words of the book…
BUT NOW IN CHRIST!
And with Christ begins the movement of man from death to life. No longer strangers. Fellow citizens with the saints. Another favorite coming up: members in the household of God. (We are not just invited into His house we are invited in the the family!)
Reconciliation in Christ.
We went from being alienated from God to being in His house. Just the thought makes me bop up and down in anticipation. Now that is the hope I was hoping for!
Sometimes, we tend to think that God is only healing the heartbreaks from before we became His family. Or from those who are presently alienated from Him. But, God is also healing hearts that were broken by our failures. Broken by our sisters and brothers. By our pastors. By our friends. Sunday school teachers. AWANA leaders. Camp counselors. Me. You.
In verse 16, “…reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing hostility.”
No wonder the hostility in my clenched fist is rotting, it is dead. So why am I still hanging on to it? Perhaps, I am just scared of being hurt again. Too bad for me the Bible talks about turning the other cheek. (Living for Christ is living with the knowledge that you will be hurt again.)
I am writing this because this is how God and I talk, how we hash things out together. I am sharing this because of the truth in the next few verses.
Verse 20 claims Christ Jesus to be our cornerstone. (Can I get an amen on that one? I mean seriously y’ll!)
And then verse 21. “In whom [Jesus Christ himself, the cornerstone] the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”
Yes! That is it! A HOLY temple! I want to be that! And then…drum roll please…verse 22, “into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
Verses 21 and 22, are what I want- even though I am sure I do not understand it completely. As I read over the words I crave it with an intensity that is not my own. And it is as that intensity swells in my heart and takes a deeper root my clenched hand lets go.
Maybe I am not the only 'good' (in the ever failing sort of way) Christian that has been walking around with clenched fists? In no way do I want to minimize the pain that I am sure you have gone through. And I will not try to justify their actions, but I do want to encourage you with what God challenged me with this morning.
Christ brought reconciliation. The very basis of Christianity is to be like Christ. If I am so bold as to say I am a new creation then I most be bolder still and become a peacemaker.
Reconciliation is worth fighting for, obviously Jesus did die for it.
The church is more than a few walls it is the unity of the Body of Christ. Open you hands and let go of the rotting hostility in your life. Do not let your pride persuade you to cling to death, listen to peace and be reconciled. To God and to man.
If we claim to be forgiven by God we must likewise forgive others.
Death to hostility. Life to love.
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one
and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.