restorying faith and values

Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Christian Reconciliation – The process of ‘making things right’ before God


In the past few years,  I have been thinking, praying and studying a lot about reconciliation. And for good reason! I have received forgiveness beyond anything I deserve or can even understand. Every day for the past three and a half years I have been taken again to the foot of the cross - realising that in Jesus we have all been reconciled to the Father, our sin thrown into the deepest part of the sea.

God's gift of forgiveness has been truly opened up to each of us. This is reconciliation. And now, we have been given the work of reconciliation until Jesus returns to finalise the reconciliation of creation eternally.

Here's a brief outline of the process for participation in Godly reconciliation as demonstrated in the Bible. There is much much more that could be included.

Sinner: Confess (tell the whole truth), Repent (express sorrow for your sin), Ask forgiveness (1 John 1:8-10). This is the process of reconciliation for the sinner who, having humbled himself, desires restitution of the relationship. If the sinner is not repentant, you'll need to turn to Matthew 18:15-20.

The Church: The system of response to a fallen believer is clearly laid out in scripture. Reconciliation is the primary work given to ‘anyone who is in Christ’ (2 Cor 5:16-21) and should therefore be something we are very good at as Christians. The process of reconciliation (Gal 6:1-5) is one of wariness toward sin, love toward the sinner and forgiveness as Christ forgave us (Eph 4:32).

The offended person: This is the hard part! Forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to us. I can’t count the number of women who have said to my wife and I that they would not be able to forgive their husbands – at least not until some dire consequences were dealt out. Rather than be seen to be speaking out of place, I offer a few texts: Eph 4:32, Heb 8:12, 2 Cor 5:18-19, 1 John 4:19-21, Ps 103:8-12.

One thing is very clear in scripture: God values reconciliation more than sacrifices and offerings. Why? Because God our Creator became our Re-creator through the ultimate act of Reconciliation on the Cross of Calvary. Every time followers of God participate in the reconciliation process it declares: The Lord He is good, His mercy endures forever.


The above assumes all parties are participating in the reconciliation process. On the cross, Jesus made forgiveness available to all. It is up to us to accept that gift. He forces forgiveness on no one. To do so would be unhealthy and ineffective. “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

Forgiving The Sinner - A Cultural Understanding

When the Prophet Nathan held King David to account for his actions before God (See 2 Samuel 12) he did it with a story about a father. The Prophet told the King a parable about a rich man who, to feed a visitor, took the only lamb of a poor man. The rich man had many animals but didn’t want to lessen his herd. The poor man raised the lamb inside his home. Nathan described the situation: “This lamb grew up with the man and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.” Nathan’s story focused on the relationship of the lamb to this poor family – a father and children – to show it was part of their community.

Nathan’s story pointed David to the impact of his actions on those around him rather than focusing on what his sin had done to his own character. Bathsheba was more than a sheep. She was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s wife. She slept in someone’s arms.

In collectivist cultures, the community is the way people identify themselves. They don't even think "We before I" they just live it because this is their deeply embedded reality - their shared public, private and self-culture. The collectivist is, first, a community.

We live in an individualistic culture. We think of ourselves long before we consider others. "That's not fair!" is our cry because we are first. When someone wrongs us, we think (and even say) "I'm going to punish that person by kicking them out or kicking them to pieces. PROBABLY BOTH!" And those around us laugh because, of course, that person deserves it for hurting 'me'.

My selfish response to treatment from others is my individualistic culture coming out (As an American, the force is strong with me!). While there is much to be learned from valuing the self, God spoke His reality into a collectivist culture. He said, "I am we. I am three. I am one." This only makes sense in a collectivist culture. And it makes PERFECT sense in that context!

"Love covers over a multitude of sins" is a collectivist ministry model. This is how loving families care for the fallen: embrace the sinner tightly as they confess and heal so they know they are loved, needed and cherished; and so they don’t wander off into the stormy night of their distress where they may be swallowed eternally by their self-loathing. Forgiveness in a collectivist culture is given for the community. We need us. To lose one is to lose all. As a community, when one is lost the 99 are never the same. For we are one hundred.

Holding a leader to account, as Nathan did, is God's way of rebuilding His collectivist Kingdom. Nathan’s story showed David his actions had taken him out of the community. Realising his severed ties to the culture and practices learned in childhood (feeding the traveller, caring for the neighbour) David wept.

When a church organisation deals with a sin against the community they apply collectivist leadership strategies in hopes of reshaping that community. This is not easy to accept by individualistic individuals, especially if we do not recognise the culture clash. For the wellbeing of the community, it is necessary – and healthy – that the leader be held to account.

What happens at home and in the close community of the local church often looks very different to the reparations made by corporate leadership. This is a good thing. The fallen leader needs to be both held to account and embraced tenaciously. They need a safe place to weep, pray and heal after being shown a story greater than themselves.

To hold the tension between these two realities can be difficult unless we recognise the holistic nature of God’s Kingdom: how important the ‘whole one hundred’ and how desperately loved ‘each one’ by our Heavenly Father.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sabbath School Helps - Lesson 9 - May 27 2017

This is a weird way to do this, but I'm short on time and y'all asked for it. So, here it is!

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Matthew Hunter I miss your one to two page sabbath school summaries. If you started doing them again I could put them to good use!!

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Dave Edgren Hmm. Second person to ask today! Was it the question based ones you found most useful or the more Devotional styled ones?

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Matthew Hunter Question based one as anyone could use it to lead an effective lesson study and the discussion it got going was great. It really helped to empower our Sabbath school classes to involve more people.

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Dave Edgren I'll see what I can do.

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Dave Edgren It won't be tonight. Lol

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Dave Edgren The Model I use is easy enough to follow to make your own questions. 
Head: Belief/doctrine based questions
Heart: Emotion/passion based questions
...See more

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Dave Edgren Always open ended. (not yes/no)

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Matthew Hunter But you are the zen master, we need more time learning at your feet!

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Dave Edgren Try to have questions with no right/wrong answers. Just open.

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Dave Edgren OK. Let's do four questions for tomorrow...

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Dave Edgren HEAD: Hope SS guide is good this week. Their opening question is a great Head question. 
2 Peter 1:1–4
What do you think Peter would have chosen as his most precious promise from God and why? (have a list of bible promises incase people dont have any)

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Dave Edgren HEART: (also from HopeSS) What promise from God’s Word has become particularly precious
to you on your Christian journey?

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Dave Edgren HANDS: Read the list presented in 2 Peter 1:5-7 
What's being listed here? What do each of these look like in action? How have you seen these things bless the church? The world?

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Dave Edgren Another HEART: Why is Love the punchline? Why is it the overarching reality of God's presence in the life of a believer? 
HANDS: What does God's love look like in action?

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Matthew Hunter This is great Dave, I'm loving the impromptu workshop on creating a simple one sheet sabbath school lesson.

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Dave Edgren HORIZON: Laying aside the tent?!?! What's that gonna be like? (2 Peter 1:14)... Can we live like it's laid aside already? Why? Why not? How? (Let's get to it!)

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Dave Edgren So, I would focus on those 14 verses.

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Dave Edgren Read the whole thing.

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Dave Edgren Then ask for "What stands out to you?" "What's the big idea?" Ask them to rephrase that big Idea as a question. Discuss the questions.

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Dave Edgren That can be a whole SS lesson on it's own if enough people put in

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Matthew Hunter Well I've been thoroughly blessed. Learning where to look for good helps (i.e. Hope SS) is awesome too. You have lots to offer my friend, appreciate it!

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Dave Edgren With the right group the :!?... model can fill an hour
: The Passage
! BIG Idea from each person
? Each person rephrases big idea as question (Write them on the board!)
. . . Three answers for each question (from the group)

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Dave Edgren That's all I have for you on this fine evening. It is now time to read a bit of theology before falling into a blissful sleep 

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