The Pastor's Pen
Recall the story of Jacob and Esau and the “stolen” blessing of their father Isaac. Remember how Rebekah sent Jacob away with this warning, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you,” (Gn 27.42). Almost two decades late, Jacob returns – could they be reconciled?
Hear again the story of their next meeting: “And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two female servants. And he put the servants with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother…Esau said, ‘What do you mean by all this company that I met?’ Jacob answered, ‘To find favor in the sight of my lord.’ But Esau said, ‘I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.’ Jacob said, ‘No, please, if I have found favor in your sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and you have accepted me,’” (Gn 33.1-4, 8-10).
I remind you of this story so that we may relearn an important lesson – the matter does not end with the absolution. If I have offended a brother or sister, come to them and asked forgiveness and he or she has given it – the matter is not over. We must still be reconciled. We must see their face “which is like seeing the face of God” to echo the patriarch.
Too often we relive the Garth Brook’s hit “We Bury the Hatchet.” If you are not familiar with the song, the punchline of the chorus goes, “we bury the hatchet but leave the handle stickin’ out.” The implication seems obvious, we can easily, and all too often pull it out to resume hostilities. As brothers and sisters in Christ this simply should not be. Jacob made an elaborate gift to Esau, “two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milking camels and their calves, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys (Gn 32.14-15),” seeking to restore the relationship. God the Father gave his Son to reconcile us to himself. Listen again to Paul’s description, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation,” (2 Co 5.18-19).
Be reconciled. What might that look like? Jacob had given offense and offered the conciliator gift; we can certainly do likewise. But what if we are the offended party? If we have truly forgiven, why not be the first to offer the conciliator gesture? How about something as simple as a cup of coffee and conversation? Perhaps something more involved; taking an interest in and helping running errands or chores.
Be reconciled. Get the relationship out of neutral and start building. As the body of Christ, as the Church, we ARE family not just for today or this week or even this lifetime – for eternity. Let us learn to truly love and cherish the fellowship God has given; “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” (Ep 4.3). Amen.