Repentance, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation = LOVE

Today is Yom Kippur, the last day of Rosh Hashanah (the celebration of the Jewish New Year).  

On Yom Kippur, Jews round the world fill synagogues for the purpose of repentance for the past year’s sins or wrongdoings, extending/receiving forgiveness, and reconciliation.  For them, they are always looking forward to the one day when Messiah will come so that forgiveness can full be realized, and complete reconciliation with Yahweh will be fulfilled.  

Yet, Messiah has come.  For those who truly repent and come to Yahweh (God, the great I Am) through Yeshua (Jesus, God’s son), we truly are forgiven and reconciled to our Heavenly Father.  

Yom Kippur is the perfect picture of the gospel, the good news, the whole plan of salvation.  

Everything is about repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  Everything Jesus did while on earth demonstrated these three things, because walking in these three things is love.  This is the action of love.

This is just not how we get into heaven, the sweet by and by, one day.  This is what our daily, moment by moment lives should look like.

I’ve grown up in church all my life, even graduating from Bible college.  I’ve been exposed to many different traditional and non-traditional churches and religious groups.  More times than I can count, I’ve heard the gospel: the call to repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  

Most of the time, it has been in the context of our relationship with God and not with each other.  Yet, even when the call has been for that with one another, I dare say I’ve truly seen that lived out by example in Christian leaders lives a handful of times.  

I’m not picking on Christian leaders by the way, however any good leader is supposed to be exemplifying what they want others to do. 

By in large, I’ve witnessed groups (churches, organizations) who are about themselves, about their own agenda, their own kingdom being promoted and built.  

I’m not saying this in a judgmental tone.  Please hear my heart in this.  Until repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation becomes who we are all the time, I believe we are going to be impotent in reaching a world hurting and dying.  

If we can’t walk in love with one another, in our families, in our churches, with our brothers and sisters, how are we going to be able to love a broken world?  Why would the world even be drawn to Jesus in the first place, if we don’t show them what love looks like in how we love one another?

1 John 4:7-11 is super clear on this.  “Beloved, let us love another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is begotten of God, and knows God.  He that does not love does not love God for God is love…  This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if we love God, we ought also love one another.”

There are no exemptions given here.  “I’ll love you as long as we see eye to eye.”  “I’ll love you if you love me, and support my agenda, my ministry, but if you don’t then I’ve no need of you.”  “I’ll love you if you give tithes to my church.”.  Maybe these things aren’t said, but they are acted out in the lives of believers and church organizations every day.  

I’ve experienced this conditional love in my own life multiple times, but also seen it play out in the lives of many others.  As long as you contribute to the person or the church, and are “in agreement” then all is fine, but as soon as you are seen as no longer contributing to the “machine”, the person is cast to the side.  Most don’t recover from this, and leave the faith altogether.

Of course, this hasn’t happened every time.  I’m currently with a group of believers who are genuine and are trying to walk out in love this good news message with each other and God.  

Kathie Walters once said that the second you start hearing words that make it sound like we have the corner on the next move of God or that we qualify for a move of God in anyway, like it is about us, you might as well pack your bags and leave that local church, because they have already lost the battle.  As soon as the gospel becomes about us, our kingdom, our ministry, we’ve already jumped off the tracks.  We’ve stepped off the road of love and into “self”.

Again this is not a condemnation, but it is a pattern that happens over and over and over again.    

I truly believe the reason God is raising up unknown voices is because “nobody’s” have learned what it is to walk in repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.  They have learned to walk in love, and they aren’t seeking personal gain, but only glory for their Heavenly Father.  

One thing the Lord has been working in me a lot lately is to love someone else when they won’t love you back.

In multiple seasons in the past five years, people I’ve loved dearly, some in church leadership, some simply dear friends have for whatever reason completely cut off relationship without any explanation.  Some have given the excuse that they are just in a different seasons and have moved on, but the results have been the same – rejection, pain, isolation, separation, division.  

I understand moving on in the terms of going different directions, because we all have different things to put our hand to.  I also understand that sometimes there is a need of healthy boundaries.  Yet, rejecting someone completely, who is a brother or sister, especially with no opportunity for communication is hurtful and wrong.  This has nothing to do what 1 John 4 tells us to do.  We don’t even know God if we can’t love our brother and sister in Christ, regardless of how they treat us.

That doesn’t mean I allow someone to abuse me.  Like I said, sometimes we have to set up healthy boundaries, but I can still love someone, even within those boundaries.  Sometimes love looks like holding a healthy boundary, while choosing into forgiving and releasing.  Ultimately, the goal is reconciliation though, and that’s what I should be going towards.

In these broken relationships, Yahweh has asked me to keep right on loving them anyway.  Oh, it would be much easier to write them off, and treat them as they have treated me.  In fact, in the past, I’ve been pretty good at protecting my heart and moving on.  I survived that way growing up.  

I’ve not done it perfectly, but I keep trying.  Why?  I think that’s where we pick up our cross and daily follow in the steps of Jesus.  It’s not about me, but following him and his example of love.  Though I’ve felt crucified by other believers at times, I’ve not truly shed my blood, but Jesus did.  And when I get up on that cross, and forgive others like he has forgiven me, choosing into love regardless of what they do, then maybe reconciliation can one day happen.

I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt. Sometimes, it’s been some of the most hurtful things I’ve been asked to do, to reach out that one time, to wash someone’s feet, to honor someone who has acted less than honorably towards me.  

Yet, the one I follow is Jesus. He was the one who was rejected and scorned by everyone, but still allowed himself to be flayed open on a cross for us.

He’s the one who chose Judas, knowing Judas would betray him.  He even stooped to the lowest point place of servant and washed Judas’s feet knowing that night would end with the fateful kiss.

This is the example Jesus set for us.

Love doesn’t love because of what it will get back in return.  In fact, true love has no expectation of being loved in return.  

Yahweh’s love is like water going over a waterfall.  It loves in sweet abandonment, racing to the lowest places, breaking itself freely on the rocks below.  Wow, what kind of love that is!

Jesus warns that in the last days, men will be lovers of self, not lovers of God and others.  Their love would grow cold.  

We must first return to our first love, Yeshua, and be filled with his love for others.  

“They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.  They will know we are Christians by our love,” the words ring from the song I learned in Sunday School.   Is this what we are known for?  We will be known for our love or lack of it.

As Jews celebrate the fulfillment of something they are looking towards, may we as believers in Jesus chose into walking in the action of true love through repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation, not just with Yahweh, but also with each other now.  If we do, that good news will change the world, and usher in the glory of our God.

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