Truth and Reconciliation

 

As I write this the EU Referendum is just a week or so away so I don’t yet know the outcome.  Due to publishing deadlines the result will have been published by the time you get to read this article, so you do! Although in one respect I am writing in the dark, the opinion polls and pundits are all predicting a close run thing so it is fair to say that a large proportion of the electorate will be disappointed by the outcome.

Despite the early commitment by the politicians to keep the Referendum conversation from becoming personal, it seems that people on both sides resorted to attacking the integrity and wisdom of the other protagonists. As a result there are deep divisions between members in each of the main political parties.

In time no doubt the dust will settle and government will have to get back to the task of doing business with other European leaders regardless of the outcome. In order to do this people who have expended a great deal of emotion against each other will need to work together again as colleagues, and even as friends. This will require reconciliation and forgiveness.

The title of this article is borrowed from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was set up to try and heal the deep divisions in South Africa after the collapse of the apartheid regime. It operates on the philosophy that reconciliation depends on the truth of past hurts being brought out into the open and amnesty being granted to offenders who are willing to be honest about their role in harming others.

Thankfully the divisions, and even hatred, expressed in our society do not run as deep as those in post-apartheid South Africa. So there is hope for the future of the UK. Nevertheless unless these divisions are healed there is potential for them to deepen over time.

On many occasions Jesus spoke about the vital importance of reconciliation in all human relationships. He gave us a number of priorities:

  1. The need to seek reconciliation is urgent. The bible tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger. We are to seek reconciliation as soon as we are hurt, or realise that we have hurt someone.
  2. Each of us is responsible for taking the first step towards reconciliation. If we wait for the other person to come to us reconciliation will be delayed, possibly forever.
  3. The goal is reconciliation rather than vindication. Whether we are right or whether we are wrong it is more important to be reconciled than to apportion blame.
  4. Reconciliation can only occur once forgiveness has been offered and received. Forgiveness does not ignore the pain but chooses to accept it and to forego any desire for revenge or retribution.

In the prayer Jesus taught we say ‘forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’. Those who wish to be forgiven must be those who forgive others. My prayer is that whatever our future role in Europe we will become a nation of people who will not let any issue divide us but will live in truth and reconciliation with each other.

 

This blog post featured in the July/August 2016 edition of Hook Focus

20:20 Vision

What does it mean to be a Commission Church?

Commission is an international family of churches working together to make disciples, reach the nations and transform communities. Led by Guy Miller and his team, Commission has churches in the UK, India, Spain, Portugal and other nations.

Our churches actively work together and support each other in seeing the Kingdom advance through:

  • Going to the nations and reaching the unreached
  • Starting new churches and caring for existing churches
  • Raising and training leaders
  • Social action and community development

At the recent Commission Prayer gathering in Bournemouth, Guy shared with us his 20:20 vision for our family of churches. This vision is expressed by the following statement:

To see thousands of lives transformed, through hundreds of churches, in tens of nations.

Many people find it helpful to understand what this means by setting targets. The overall target for Commission is to double by the year 2020. To double 50 UK churches to 100, to double 50 Indian churches to 100, to double the number of countries that Commission is working into. To see 1,000 people baptised across the UK churches.

What does this mean for us?

  • It means prayerfully being ambitious to play our part.
  • It means connecting with other Commission churches and partnering with them in reaching these goals. One current example is the way the ylife team have connected with Harvest Church Alton to go to Newday together. Of course Westpoint is the flagship event for Commission churches to gather together. It is not simply about getting away for a long weekend of fun, worship and teaching, but it is a tangible way of expressing our connectedness to the bigger picture. It is not too late for you to book in and attend this event – all the details are on our church website.
  • It means praying for and expecting growth in our own church. What would it take for us to double in size over the next four and a half years? Do you dare dream that this will happen? Perhaps you find that hard to imagine but remember our God is the one ‘who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us’.

This blog post featured in the July/August 2016 edition of Lifelines