Love and Reconciliation (Romans 5:6-15)
Rev. Edwin Morrow

In the words of Paul from Romans, Chapter 1, "To all of you who are loved by God and called to be saints, grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen." 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Last week I shared with you our theme for the next few months flows from Paul’s words in Romans 1:17 -- “The righteous shall live by faith.”

We can thank Amanda Goodspeed for providing a banner to help us visualize our theme. 

As we see it, let us speak it. As I say, “The righteous,” you say, “shall live by faith.”

Last week we focused on two words, righteous and justified.

Through our faith in Jesus, we are justified, that is declared not guilty of our sins.

Through our faith in Jesus, God sees all of us righteous, pure, perfect, and holy Jesus.

Today we focus on two more words: love and reconciliation

Paul says in our Romans 1:8 text for today: God shows his love for us in that while we were powerless, ungodly, enemies of God, He sent His son Jesus Christ to die for us. We rejoice in our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had a great fall.

They disobeyed the one command God had given.

In their Fall they shattered their perfect relationship with God.

And there was nothing they could do to put it back together again.

Paul says ever since that great Fall, we are all are born powerless, ungodly, and enemies of God.

Born that way, we have absolutely no ability to reconcile ourselves to God, but billions upon billions of people throughout the ages have tried and failed.

All futile man-made religions can be boiled down to this one common denominator: try to do enough of good things in your life and hope they will be enough to earn divine favor. 

They hope in futility. No amount of human effort can repair the broken relationship with God. It is God who does the reconciling, and He does so out of His love for us.

If you want to know how much God loves you – look at the cross.

See the Father’s Son Jesus dying on the cross and experiencing hell for us powerless, ungodly, sinful enemies of God.

God gets all the praise and glory for reconciling us to Himself through the cross.

God gets all the praise and glory for empowering any and all good that we may do. 

And we do not always do the good that God wants us to do.

Today we think about broken relationships.

With the sinful, hurtful things we say and do, we can damage or destroy our relationship with others, leading to estrangement and alienation.

As we think of God the Father sending His Son to die for us, I think of the relationships of two other fathers and sons.

Not long ago, I received a telephone call from a man who is dying of cancer. He had been a member of Grace but had gotten mad at other members and left. I tried, but I could not get him to come back as he remained hard hearted. He even got mad at me for trying. And he had also got mad at his son and disowned him. Yet he called me and asked me if I would officiate at his funeral. As we met with him, I lovingly asked about his hard feelings towards his son and others. He confessed that he had been wrong all along. I declared all of his sins to be forgiven for the sake of the blood that God’s Son shed on the cross. He is actively seeking reconciliation with his son. Will the son respond? I hope and pray so.

Another son, when he got old enough to fight back, got into a physical altercation with his drunken, abusive father and told the father to get out of his life and stay out forever. Years passed and the son became a Christian. As he grew in his faith, realizing how much God loved him and forgave him, he realized that it was not an option, he had to be reconciled to his father. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, the broken relationship was restored, and the son went on to lead his father to faith in Jesus.

If we are truly reconciled to God, seeking reconciliation with others is not an option.

1 Corinthians 13 says that love keeps no record of wrongs.

In love, God took the first step to reconcile us Himself. 

In love, the Spirit would move us to take the first step in an effort to restore what has broken.

That first step should come as soon as possible.

Paul says do not let the sun go down on your anger.

One day a member of Grace angrily told me that he did not want “such and such” taking place in his church.

I listened to his rant and then reminded him that Grace wasn’t his church, it is God’s church. 

I shared with him that what was taking place was God-pleasing and that the vast majority of members were supportive.

I shared with him that his personal preferences could not hold the rest of congregation hostage. 

The conversation went downhill after that, and he stormed out.

I confess that I had gotten angry too. 

I could not go to bed without calling him, apologizing and asking for his forgiveness.

He had been doing his own thinking about his words and anger. 

His personal preferences were still there, but we went to bed at peace with each other.

God has done everything He can in order to make peace with us.

We need to do all that we can to make peace with others.

But still … the results are not totally up to us.

True reconciliation doesn’t happen unless both parties make every effort. 

That’s why Paul says in Romans 12: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” 

We can’t change the past. 

We can’t erase the memories. 

We can’t, as is said, unscramble eggs.

But by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do our part and leave the results to God. 

As we close, I have it on good authority that Jesus doesn’t care if Humpty Dumpy is ever put back again. 

On that same good authority in know that Jesus wants to put our broken relationships back together, no matter how little or large the break might be.

Is there such a need in your life, be empowered by the Holy Spirit to take the first step.

Make the telephone call, knock on the door, write a letter, or send a thinking-of-you card. 

Matthew says, Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction (35).

In a world where we are hurt and are hurt by others, Jesus is still proclaiming the Gospel and healing the wounds that we have created or endured.

And now the words of Jesus, slightly paraphrased, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand. You have received love and forgiveness without paying for it; give love and forgiveness even if you get nothing in return.”

In Jesus’ name, Amen.