God has restored our relationship with Him through Christ, and has given us the ministry of restoring relationships. – 2 Corinthians 5:18
This is a subject that is close to home for me. Many around me, friends, family members and even a few casual acquaintances are suffering right now from broken fellowships with family and friends. The spirit of broken fellowship has even hit my immediate family. My character and spirituality have been questioned recently and personally it made me want to lash out and defend myself and tear down those who call me everything but a child of God. But I am reminded of Chapter 20 of Rick Warren’s bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life where he writes, “If you want God’s blessing on your life and you want to be known as a child of God, you must learn to be a peacemaker. Jesus said, God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
So how do I prove I am a child of God? By setting those straight and letting those who try to tear me down have it, or speak peace and encourage restoration of relationships to everyone. So without calling out names and speaking on specifics to put those on the spot who lay and pray for my downfall, today I choose to let God lead me and share with all who may be facing this very problems in their own life, that relationships are worth sharing.
Now let me say everyone who plays the peacemaker or the person in the relationship who promotes restoration won’t always be received by those they have a broken fellowship with. But I believe that God wants you to step up and be the one to mend the fence, to make the first move. I believe God expects you to make the first move. Now if you do and the other person doesn’t receive it, I believe you have nothing to be bitter about because you have done what God has called you to do and then God will deal with that person one on one at some point. But do not let the fact they may not receive you, stop you from making the first move.
In chapter 20 of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren offers seven biblical steps to restoring fellowship. I will summarize them but I encourage you all to read chapter 20 in it’s entirety for yourself.
1. Talk to God before talking to the person.
Discuss the problem with God. If you will pray about the conflict first instead of gossiping to a friend, you will often discover that either God changes your heart or He changes the other person without your help.
2. Always take the initiative.
It doesn’t matter whether you are the offender or the offended: God expects you to make the first move.
3. Sympathize with their feelings.
Use your ears more than your mouth. Before attempting to solve any disagreement you must first listen to people’s feelings. Paul advised, “Look out for one another’s interest, not just your own.” Philippians 2:4
4. Confess your part of the conflict.
If you are serious about restoring a relationship, you should begin with admitting your own mistakes or sin. Jesus said it’s the way yo see things more clearly: “First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Matthew 7:5
5. Attack the problem, not the person.
You cannot fix the problem if you’re consumed with fixing the blame. You must choose between the two. The Bible says, “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” Proverbs 15:1. A soft answer is better than a sarcastic one!
6. Cooperate as much as possible.
Paul said, “Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody.” – Romans 12:18. Peace always has a price tag. Sometimes it cost our pride; it often cost our self-centeredness.
7. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution.
It is unrealistic to expect everyone to agree about everything. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship, while resolution focuses on the problem. When we focus on reconciliation the problem loses significance and often becomes irrelevant. We can reestablish a relationship even when we are unable to resolve our differences. Christians often have legitimate, honest disagreements and differing opinions, but we can disagree without being disagreeable!
Is there someone in your life that you need to restore fellowship with. What are you waiting for. If I can make one more suggestion, that would be for you to pause right now and go to God in prayer about that person. Then pick up the phone and begin the process. Rick Warren has given you the seven simple steps, even though they might not be easy. It is hard work restoring a relationship. But remember, Relationships are always worth restoring and II Corinthians tells us… “[Christ] has given us the ministry of restoring relationships!
Be Blessed brethren and remember Romans 8:6 says, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace!”
Stay Spiritual Minded!