The Priority of ReconciliationDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
"So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God."
From cover to cover, the Bible values relationships. Our relationship with God takes first place, of course. But Scripture teaches us that our relationship with God necessarily impacts our relationships with people, and vice versa.
We are not in a position to follow Jesus' instructions in Matthew 5:23-24 literally. Because Jesus offered the "once for all" sacrifice on the cross (Heb. 9:26-28), we no longer offer sacrifices in the Temple. Yet the deeper principle of this passage remains valid. As much as God desires our worship (John 4:23), he also desires reconciliation among people. To underscore this point, Jesus told his disciples to be reconciled to an offended person even before coming to worship God.
I wonder what would happen if Christians began to take Jesus' teaching on reconciliation seriously. For a while, church services might be relatively empty as former pew-sitters were out making their relationships right. But then, how different life would be! Husbands and wives who once masked their marital conflict by looking happy at church would experience the joy of forgiveness and harmony. How rich their worship would be! And church members whose former animosity threatened to divide their congregation would experience genuine unity as they gathered to praise God. How strong their church would be!
Let us always remember that Jesus came, not only to reconcile us to God, but also to break down hostility between people (Eph. 2:1-22).
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
Is there someone in your life with whom you should seek reconciliation even before your next worship service? What might hold you back from following Jesus' teaching in this passage?
Lord, I must confess that when I read this passage from Matthew, I am startled. It would seem that nothing should take priority over worship. But you tell your disciples to reconcile with others even before coming to the temple. This reminds me and challenges me to do similarly in my life.
Help me, Lord, to be a person of genuine reconciliation, whether I'm at home or at work, whether in church or in the world. May I live out with others the reconciliation I have experienced with you. Amen.