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The year 2020 is like no other. Every week it seems something extraordinary is happening locally, nationally or globally. We have had bushfires, a global pandemic, an economic shut down, high-level cyber attacks and race riots – and we aren’t even half way into the year yet. This has been a year of great unrest and tension.

When we see anarchy breaking out in the streets of great cities of the world, it is intimidating. The situation seems hopeless. I believe the root issue is not always the people. Sometimes it is about the political energies that are driving people. The Black Lives Matter movement has a political energy and a lawlessness behind it.

We must be able to separate what are some legitimate issues of these movements from the political energies that contaminate them. We must have a heart of love and compassion, as well as a discerning spirit. We must never be dismissive of the feelings of our indigenous brothers and sisters or the African American people. These people have gone through some of history’s worst atrocities and these wounds can take generations to heal. But the revolution and reconciliation needed in society will not come through any politically-driven movement. That is why the Church must rise into a new place of stature and function in the nations because the only place that you will find true reconciliation and the strategies that lead to complete restoration is in the House of God. You can read more about this in my previous blog.

Here you will see progressive, historic turning points long before they hit the halls of Parliament and the systems of the world. For example, the great Azusa Street revival at the turn of the century rejected segregation and people from every race and nationality came together to worship God. It involved black people, women and the poor at all levels of ministry. It suffered great criticism for this; but its leader William Seymour, the son of freed slaves, considered the unity of the church was crucial to the authenticity of the gospel and must transcend race, gender, education and culture. This was a radical teaching for its time.*

I thank God that among my closest friends and ministry partners are Indigenous Australians, Nigerians, Papua New Guineans, New Zealanders and Indians. These are not my culture, but there is not the slightest hint of racism among us. The unity we have is through Christ.

On August 11 last year, during the opening service of our building, my spiritual father Dr Jonathan David said reconciliation with the community would be a powerful feature of what God would do in the coming years. He spoke about how the Church had withdrawn, but stated that we must re-engage in the world because it is God’s world. The difficulties we are feeling in the world at the moment present an incredible opportunity for the Church to engage in the ministry of reconciliation in our communities.

Below are five elements that are critical for true reconciliation:

  1. There must be a love that compels us

2 Corinthians 5:14-18 says

“For the love of Christ compels us because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died…Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away and behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…”

Our job cannot be separated from the assignment our Heavenly Father gave Jesus. He came into earth to reconcile a lost humanity to the Father. Then the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church to empower it to complete the very same assignment – to reconcile the world to God.

The proof that we have been baptised in the Holy Spirit and touched by God is that we have a love that compels us to act when we see people hurting, damaged or separated from God. The love of God must compel us to respond.

 

“The proof that we have been baptised in the Holy Spirit is that we have a love compels us to act when we see people hurting, damaged or separated from God.”

 

True leadership is also driven by this heart attitude. When the Israelites cried out to God in their oppression in Egypt, He raised up a leader to deliver them. One of the greatest qualities of Moses’ leadership was his heart of compassion for the people. This was God-given. This is not a soulish, surface or virtue-signalling type of love. It is the love of Christ. When we see people broken and going astray, we must allow the love of Christ to compel us to reach out to them and restore their connection with God, knowing that this is the turning point and origin of healing and restoration.

 

“When we see people broken and going astray, we must allow the love of Christ to compel us to reach out to them and restore their connection with God, knowing that this is the turning point and origin of healing and restoration.”

 

2. There must be a humility

Ephesians 5:15-16 warns us to walk with caution and careful consideration because the days are evil. If ever we need discernment and the spirit of wisdom and revelation, it’s now.

The roots of racism, and every form of discrimination, are in pride. White pride. Black pride. Religious pride. Gay pride. Cultural pride. In fact, the spirit of the Lord dealt with Peter over his issue of racism rooted in Jewish pride. He believed that the gospel was for the Jewish people only. But the Lord corrected him and showed him that it was for both Jew and Gentile. The promise of the Holy Spirit is international and inter-generational. The gospel is the most inclusive creed you will ever encounter. There is no racism in the gospel and there is no racism if you’re in Christ. A sign that He is truly in you is that you have such a love for those who are different to us.

Pride is the exaltation of self, one’s culture or philosophy, above Christ. This is the origin of sin and the source of its power. Pride is reinforced by a self-righteous attitude that we are right and we have the answer. But humility is coming to the place where we humble ourselves before God and man and we seek Him for the answer, putting ourselves in a position where reconciliation can begin to take place.

 

“Pride is reinforced by a self-righteous attitude that we are right and we have the answer. But humility is humbling ourselves before God and man and seeking Him for the answer.”

 

The beginning of cultural and national healing happens when we turn our hearts back to God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 gives a formula for the healing of nations. It says:

“If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

The nations are in need of healing. The nation of America seems to be burning at the moment. Most of Europe is in pain and stress. In our own nation, and even in our own region, we need healing. The minute we begin to humble ourselves, healing can begin to flow. The scripture calls not for the unbeliever to turn their hearts back to God, but the believer. It tells us that the first sign that we have turned our hearts back to God is humility.

3. There must be a willingness to forgive

In Matthew 18:21 Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive those who sin against him. He was looking for a numerical answer. Jesus’ response was to forgive infinitely. This shows the importance Jesus puts on the ability to forgive. If we are to walk in the wholeness of relationship with others, in our community, and those who hold different views to us, our capacity to forgive must become great.

I believe society has greatly regressed in this area. This generation is manifesting an immaturity. It is perpetually offended at something. People become easily outraged and emotion drives everything from public policy to the media cycle and multinationals’ marketing campaigns.

As Christians, God wants us to be counter-cultural. He wants us to mature. To be unoffendable. To constantly demonstrate a willingness to forgive. When we think we cannot forgive any more, we can look to Jesus. His ability to forgive is mind-blowing. While He is being crucified, taking our place on the cross, sacrificing Himself for the very people who were mocking and torturing Him, His words are: “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

4. We need to move forward together

Philipians 3:13-14 gives us a vital key to forging a future together:

“…forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

When we forgive we are able to move past old wounds and offences and point our lives and our hearts towards a greater future. One of the greatest ways to see lives healed is to gather people around the same purpose and to move towards it together.

The enemy always wants us to look back to those dreadful things that have happened in the past so it can control our future, rob us of hope and steal our joy. I have seen many come into God’s kingdom damaged by past abuse. But I have also seen that when these people embrace the truth of God’s word, they are healed, reconciled to God and move on to have a bright future.

I would like to note that in some cases relationships cannot and should not be restored because of the risk of abuse. But people who embrace forgiveness walk in absolute freedom.

5. We must choose to build a better future

We cannot lead others where we have not gone ourselves. If we want to see restoration and healing in our communities and nation, it begins with us. Being consumed and over contemplative with what has happened in the past is a trap. You have been reconciled to God and now have the same assignment Jesus had. We are called to reach out to our community, reconnect them with God and bring them on a pathway to restoration where we can rebuild our future together.

Isaiah 58:12 is one of the most poetic and inspiring pieces of scripture about the role of God’s people in the restoration and rebuilding of society. It says:

“Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.”

Our job as Christians and the Church of the Living God in our cities and our nation is to rebuild the waste places, raise up the foundations of generations, repair the breach and restore the streets.

The heart of reconciliation is to make us one with God, just as Jesus did. Now God is charging us with this responsibility. One of the highest assignments we have as a church is to reconcile people to God, knowing that this brings reconciliation among His people.

Maybe you haven’t come to this place where you have been truly reconciled with God. Maybe you just believe He is out there. Maybe you’re wondering. Maybe you have seen what is happening around the world and are thinking there must be an answer. I believe I have introduced you to the answer. His Name is Jesus Christ. He is calling out to you asking if you would come and be reconciled to Him. If you would like to take this powerful first step in your journey of healing and restoration, if you would like to experience what it is like to become a new creation in Christ and be reconciled to Him, I would encourage you to pray this simple prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in prayer asking for the forgiveness of my sins. I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is Your Son and He died on the cross that I might be forgiven and have eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. Father I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I ask you right now to come into my life and be my personal Lord and Saviour. I repent of my sins and will worship You all the days of my life. I confess with my mouth that I am born again and cleansed by the blood of Jesus.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

THIS BLOG IS BASED ON PASTOR BRIAN’S MESSAGE ‘RECONCILIATION – IS IT POSSIBLE?

* Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith, Richard J. Foster, HarperCollins Publishers Inc. New York, NY. 1998. P.113

Pastors Brian and Lynne Heath have been married for 40 years and served as the senior leaders of City Builders Church (formerly COC) at Sale, in the heart of Gippsland, for the past 27 years.

Brian is one of the longest serving pastors in the Gippsland region and has become a true father to many spiritual sons and daughters and a valued mentor to younger ministers and community leaders.

Brian has a strong prophetic dimension to his life and carries the apostolic grace to build strong churches and to teach, train, impart and prepare the Church for the last day’s harvest. Brian believes the church of the future will not only carry the grace to win souls, but to impact and influence every domain of society.

Brian is also part of an apostolic team that travels regionally and throughout the Pacific. He is also working with ministry partners to build an alliance of like-minded ministries, churches, individuals and organisations that desire to rediscover and rebuild the Christian foundations that this great nation was built upon.