Reconciliation—restoring proper relationships

from the desk of…

by Donald Bell, Lt. Colonel – 

As a Christian, an officer, a lawyer, and a member of the Christian Legal Society I have frequently heard people, in jest, declare “Christian lawyer—isn’t that an oxymoron?” I have heard hundreds of lawyer jokes (and despite the admonitions from a past president of the California Bar Association have repeated some of them myself), and have received gifts and books emphasizing this theme, including Lawyers and other Reptiles. I actually received two copies of this last referenced book the same year. I would admit that some of the ill will expressed towards the legal profession might be deserved, but many lawyers work hard to help others to be reconciled and to be restored to friendship, harmony or communion with God, their families and society in general.

I am privileged to be a member of the Christian Legal Society. Listen to the vision and mission of this organization of Christian men and women:

Our Vision: Seeking Justice with the Love of God. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23 NIV).

Our Mission: To be the national grassroots network of lawyers and law students, associated with others, committed to proclaiming, loving and serving Jesus Christ, through all we do and say in the practice of law, and advocating biblical conflict reconciliation, legal assistance for the poor and the needy, religious freedom and the sanctity of human life.

This organization has come along side The Salvation Army to provide volunteer legal assistance to the poor and has fought in the courts for our rights to proclaim the good news in schools and the public setting. They are prepared to teach and promote biblical conflict reconciliation to avoid unnecessary legal action.

Just what is this reconciliation all about? As we celebrate Reconciliation Sunday, January 21, we are reminded of what Christ has accomplished for us as well as our responsibility to others. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians put this in perspective: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5: 18-20).

Reconciliation goes beyond our relationship with God and extends to our relationships with others. Our responsibility is to be Christ’s ambassadors. Our reconciliation with God is the basis of our reconciliation with other people—people who may be different from us in ethnicity, economic background, culture, age, gender, and any other way that can separate us.

As humans we sometimes become defensive in our attempts to reconcile to others who we perceive have harmed us in some way or do not measure up. The act done which caused harm has been made subservient to the condition of the mind of the actor. Focus on the state of your mind in the reconciliation process. Are you in denial? I did not do it. Are you looking for an excuse? I had to do it. How about rationalization—everybody does it, or justification—If you were poor you would do it. Perhaps you resort to blaming others—Mommy made me do it. Remember God’s law: God is the source, and thus an absolute exists. His purpose is to restore relationships (Romans 3:19-20). God, by focusing on act and not mind, eliminates nearly all defenses.

Let Reconciliation Sunday remind us of the tremendous diversity we celebrate in this international Salvation Army, of what Jesus Christ has sacrificed for us, and of our responsibility to others as summarized in the mission statement of the Christian Legal Society—“committed to proclaiming, loving and serving Jesus Christ, through all we do.”

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