Forgiveness is for you, but Reconciliation takes two (with bonus sermon)
Persons to participate in skits.
Opening Song: Rock of Ages (300)
Scripture Reading: Genesis 50: 15-20 (Read responsively)
Ask three (3) persons to act out the following sections with emotions to begin the program.
Last night it happened again, and this morning he said sorry for the thousandth time. If I keep forgiving him, it keeps happening. I feel so stupid, abused, hurt and less than a human. But I am told as a Christian I am supposed to forgive him and reconcile with him. Is this the expectation? Should I continue to stay in this toxic situation?
My friend hurt me. She created a fake profile on Instagram and has been impersonating someone else and bullying me online for a long time. How could she do this to me? I've been nothing but good to her. Her actions have caused me severe anxiety and depression. I know I must forgive her, but how does reconciliation factor into this entire situation. I've been living in emotional turmoil for over three years. Should we continue being friends?
The neighbor's animals came into my yard and destroyed my crops again. My neighbor also goes to my church. I have spoken to him about the situation over and over again. What is the next step because, at this point, my neighbor and church brother is becoming an enemy to my family members and me? Do I try to reconcile with him?
There is much uncertainty amongst church members concerning the relationship between forgiveness and reconciliation. Church, can you identify with this dilemma?
Let us first define two important words that we will be using very often in today's presentation.
- Restore friendly relations between persons or things.
- Stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.
Forgiveness and reconciliation are two crucial concepts that determine how we treat our neighbors, and today we will look deeply as to what each means. We will also try to determine what the word of God requires of us with regards to forgiveness and reconciliation.
(Some persons may say No some persons may say Yes)
We all know that forgiveness is a must for Christians, but where does reconciliation factor into the equation? Do you believe that once you forgive someone, you must reconcile with them?
As you scroll through Social Media, you may come across images and quotes advising us to remove or cut off negative individuals from our life.
It reflects the fact that many people are having difficulty with interpersonal relationships and that they believe removing these individuals from your life is the best solution. Have you seen any posts like what I just described online?
When you think about some problematic persons in your life, co-workers, family members, so-called friends, their behavior may lead you to believe that this is the only correct solution to peace in your life.
Regardless of what social media or the world says, we must know what Jesus, through the word of God, would want me to do? What does the bible say about forgiveness and reconciliation? Please pay close attention to today's program as we dig into today's topic of Forgiveness is for you, but Reconciliation takes two.
Dramatization: The story of Joseph; A look at forgiveness and reconciliation
This scene begins with the brothers of Joseph speaking angrily about Joseph.
One of Joseph brothers (Dan): Look, Joseph is coming in the distance.
Judah: Look, here comes the hero of those dreams! Let's kill him and throw him into a pit and say that some wild animal ate him. Then we'll see what happens to those dreams."
All the brothers: Yes let us kill him
Reuben: Let's not kill him; don't murder him or even harm him. Just throw him into a dry well out here in the desert.
All the brothers grab Joseph and throw him into a pit.
Scene 2: Joseph in the pit and his conversation with God
Joseph: Hello, Hello. Please get me out of here. Dan, Rueben, Simeon, please.
Audio-Visual Room: Plays melancholy music
Joseph: How could my brothers do this to me? I have done nothing but love and adore them, yet they show me jealousy and unkindness. They even took my most prized possession, My Coat.
Joseph: Yes, sometimes I would tell daddy about the things they have done, but that's only to protect them so they could change their ways. I wonder if I'll ever see daddy again. I already lost my mother, am I going to lose my father too.
Joseph: Today, I walked miles because my father asked me to check up on my brothers. But Lord, even though I am angry and confused, I will represent you and forgive them. Yes, Lord, I will forgive them.?????
Narrator: A few years went by, and Joseph had gone through a lot. He soon became the head of Potiphar's household, then Potiphar's wife framed him. He was wrongly imprisoned and seemingly forgotten, but later became the head of the prison. But he was determined to do what God required of Him. He lived a life that represented God even in a land distant from his birth land. He soon became the head of Pharaoh's household. Now he was elevated to a high position in the kingdom. During this time, famine had fallen on the land.
The Reveal: The story of forgiveness
Audio-Visual Room: Plays a sound of a Fast Forward to symbolize a jump in the story
Dan: We just want to say thank you for extending such goodness to us. But we ask for mercy as after leaving here we found something that wasn't ours. My lord, please forgive us.
Joseph: You stole from me
Simeon: We know how this may look, but we beg your pardon. Please forgive us.
Joseph: I demand that every guard leave this room. I need to deal with these thieves seriously.
Joseph: Come close to me." "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!
Rueben: Oh, boy, we are going to get it. He is going to throw us into prison and throw away the key. He may even kill us for the wrong we have done to him.
Joseph: Be Quiet and Listen!
Brothers: Gasp very afraid
Joseph: Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.
Narrator: Because Joseph understood God's purpose, and because of who Joseph was and strived to be, he was able to forgive his brothers.
The story of Reconciliation.
Narrator: Citizenship was granted to Joseph's brothers, their families, and their father, and so they resided in Egypt. And so they lived there for many years until Jacob became sick and died. Even still, the brothers were unsure of Joseph's act of forgiveness and reconciliation towards them. They did not understand it.
Enter Joseph's brothers:
Dan: Do you think Joseph forgave us for all that we have done to him. Do you think he was just pretending to be kind to us because Daddy was around?
Simeon: You know he was always daddy's favorite child.
Gad: Let's tell Joseph that daddy asked for him to forgive us before he died. Yes, let us tell him that.
Joseph cries: Don't be afraid, my brothers. Am I in place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Narrator: Joseph acted just like Christ and forgave and reconciled with his brothers.
Lesson Study Discussion: Forgiveness and Reconciliation
This could replace the lesson study, or your church can conduct a brief summation of the week's lesson and continue this discussion.
Ask a pastor or senior person to do this segment. Give them the questions before so they can have prepared answers from the bible. This could also be done in a panel discussion. Choose the option that best fits your church's culture.
Question and Answer Segment.
- What is the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation?
- In every case that you forgive someone, do you need to reconcile?
- Can you give me some examples of forgiveness and reconciliation in the bible
- Adam and Eve
- Joseph and his brothers
- Mary Magdelene (accepted forgiveness and reconciliation from Jesus)
- Barnabas and Paul and John Mark
- Would you say that reconciliation looks the same in each of these cases?
- What do forgiveness and reconciliation look like in the following cases:
- Case of a bully at school
- Example of an impossible co-worker
- Example of an emotionally abusive spouse
- Case of an untrustworthy family member found to be drugs
- Case of a friend who stole an item from your home
Superintendents Closing Remarks
The theme for today is Forgiveness is for you, but reconciliation takes two. This could make reconciliation difficult because we do not have control over another person's feelings or actions. As a result, reconciliation looks different based on the background of the individuals and their circumstances. Reconciliation is a process, and unfortunately, reconciliation for some persons and situations may never happen in their lifetime.
In the case of Joseph, he was able to forgive and be reconciled to his brothers. In the case of Paul and John Mark, their reconciliation was very different and took place sometime after their disagreement.
Mary Magdalene is an example of someone who accepted Christ, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Christians should understand that forgiveness is not optional in their life. The bible says in
Mark 11:25, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."
Romans 12: 19 "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
Reconciliation is described as an embrace. You may love someone's hugs. You may love your spouse's hugs or your child or your grandma's hugs. But regardless of how much you enjoy their hugs, eventually, you walk away.
We are admonished to walk away stronger, whole, and healed. Walk away with the ability to affect change in the life of someone going through a similar situation. Walk away, understanding God's love and purpose for you. Walk away, exhibiting God's forgiving spirit.
Use this as a test the next time you are faced with the dilemma of forgiveness and reconciliation. If you find out that the person who wronged you is in need, will you proactively go out to help them? If this person requires a plate of food, will you give it to them?
Proverbs 25:21 says: "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:"
What thoughts and emotions do you have when you think of, or see the person? Are they similar to what God thinks of you as mentioned in Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Whatever your thoughts are, ensure that they reflect God's character and actions in every way.
Pray for the hearts who are struggling with forgiveness and reconciliation