Hope Singapore: Beyond The Law : Day 1
Reconciliation: Beyond Peace-Loving
People often mistake Christians to be merely a peace-loving group who would not do anything that might “rock the boat.” How mistaken such a notion can be! For one, the early Christians’ refusal to bow down to the Roman Caesar for the sake of maintaining social order was one of the reasons that eventually rocked the ancient Roman empire to its submission.
Matthew 5:9 declares, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Believers are called to a more demanding task – one that will take them far beyond merely loving and keeping peace. Like Jesus who took the initiative to make peace with men, Christians are called to be active peace-makers and ambassadors of reconciliation. Our peacemaking efforts may be rejected, but the alternative is continued hostility.
And one of our peacemaking efforts involves how we handle anger. Though the emotion is not wrong in itself, it has the potential to harm our relationships if it is not managed well.
When teaching the people to look beyond the Law, Jesus intensifies the commandment not to murder to its underlying spirit – it all stems from the heart. Murder is a heart issue, long before it becomes an act of physical violence. What then are we to do with our anger?
Perhaps the most important thing is that we must first acknowledge that our desire for reconciliation will be hindered by malicious anger. As innocent as they may seem, malicious anger can grow uncontrollably if unresolved, and can cloud the way we perceive others (where we will start calling them names), eventually simmering restlessly while waiting for an opportunity to seek vengeance. Harbouring malicious anger automatically quench any desire for reconciliation (Matthew 5:21-22).
We must also recognize that our offer of reconciliation is part of our act of worship. Here Jesus commands that the one who wronged others (either intentionally or unintentionally) to be proactively seeking for reconciliation, which is here seen as a natural expression of his genuine worship to God (Matthew 5:23-24).
Finally, we must make sure that our act of reconciliation must not be delayed simply because there are often far-reaching consequences for unresolved conflicts. Once the chain of reactions for these conflicts start, it would be too late to regret and we may need to pay a higher price for them (Matthew 5:25-26).