Like David, we too often settle for physical restoration with adversaries instead of seeking mental and spiritual reconciliation. The early church faced that issue, not always successfully, the Corinthian and Roman churches conspicuous failures.
How often, to this day, members of the same church body worship with each other without being reconciled to each other. Like Henry Kissinger and the North Korean delegates meeting to end the Viet Nam War, Christians sit a few feet apart from each other spatially but eons apart mentally.
In Shakespeare’s words, hurts, like wounds, “heal by degrees.” In 1067 William the Conqueror so devastated rebellious northern and western England that they didn’t recover until the 19th century.
But wounds and land are physical and geographical entities. They can’t calculate the presence of God’s grace in life. And we can never use political dimensions or nature’s recovery from abuse to excuse our refusal to let the Holy Spirit heal our interpersonal hurts.
One of the truest tests of forgiveness is its effect on our relationship with people. We can claim restoration to God only by our reconciliation with God through Christ. And since that means the absence of ill-will between God and us, it can’t allow the presence of ill-will between reconciled Christians.
In personal relationships, then, people can more easily be restored than reconciled. And restoration may be all that can be achieved. Nevertheless, reconciliation surpasses restoration. And where restoration can precede reconciliation, only reconciliation perfects restoration. Let us not emphasize the former and dismiss the latter. For where restoration may not lead to reconciliation, the latter always leads to the former. End Part III