Faith: Biblical reconciliation and love
Have you ever found yourself in a position where you ask yourself, “how did I get here?” or, “what did I do to deserve what is happening to me?” I can’t imagine anyone not having found themselves in that position, and, having been there myself, not wondering if they might not even survive the situation. In my three careers to date, the U.S. Army working in intelligence and counterintelligence, including a stint in Vietnam, 20 years of law enforcement in a city of 30,000 in the Front Range of Colorado, and ordained ministry, first as a vocational deacon and then as a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, I believe that I have experienced many of life’s ups and downs. I have experienced and observed some of the worst and some of the best of human interactions, but, to be honest, some of the best examples of the best combined with the worst interactions can be drawn directly from the Holy Scriptures.
Using the combined concepts of reconciliation and true love for one’s brother comes all the way from the Book of Genesis. One of many brothers in the house of Israel (Jacob) was one brother who managed through inappropriate timing as well as an enlarged sense of self/ego named Joseph. He single-handedly managed to infuriate his brothers and even his parents with his visions of his entire family, bowing down in awe of him, and then telling everyone how that would happen. His brothers plotted their revenge and eventually found an opportunity to not only put Joseph in his place, but also to turn a profit at the same time. They considered killing their brother, but were convinced not to physically kill him themselves, but to sell Joseph to slave traders traveling to Egypt. Joseph was sold first to Potiphar, where he found favor in the eyes of Potiphar, but then he was accused of a crime he did not commit and thrown into prison. Joseph continued to be blessed by the Lord and became an interpreter of dreams, eventually interpreting dreams for Pharaoh himself and was released and gained great influence within the house of Pharaoh. Joseph rose to prominence, and the Lord continued to bless him. Eventually, Joseph came in contact with the very brothers who had betrayed him, sold him into slavery, and concocted a story for their father that Joseph had died through a wild animal attack.
If there was ever a situation in which a person might want to exact revenge or pay back his brothers for the life he had been forced to live as a slave, this would be it. Joseph, however, took this opportunity to demonstrate true reconciliation between himself and his brothers, and by doing so exhibited the truest form of brotherly love. His statement to his brothers, that it was not they who sent Joseph to Egypt, but God, placed everything in the correct perspective. God’s plan from the very beginning was to preserve a remnant of the Israelites on Earth. After stating God’s plan for Israel, Joseph kissed his brothers. Joseph, through his love of the Lord, his willingness to act as God’s hands in a foreign land and his willingness to forgive his brothers, demonstrated that form of complete reconciliation demonstrated through love for his brothers in spite of all that they had done to him.
Are we able to see God’s love for us in our lives, in spite of the circumstances and not rely on blame or vengeance and come to realize that each of us live into the life that God had laid out for us? Can we forgive and forget the pain inflicted upon ourselves and give God the glory for His infinite love for us. Can we learn to truly love our enemies? As Jesus said, “I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (NRSV Luke 6:27). I pray that we may all live into that perfect example of reconciliation and love for one’s brother.
The Rev. Bain White is the priest/pastor at St. Mark’s Church of Grace, Craig, Colorado. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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