RAPPROCHEMENT

Jan Antonsson

The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

May 25, 2018

Neosho, MO

“For Christ is our living peace. He has made us both one by breaking down the barrier and enmity which lay between us” (Ephesians 2:14, Phillips).

In case you are wondering about the title, as I did when I encountered it in a novel I was reading last week, here’s the meaning:  “Rapprochement comes from the French word rapprochement (‘to bring together’); it is a re-establishment of cordial reconciliation, as between two countries …Additionally, it means, ‘reconciliation, increased understanding, detente, restoration of harmony, agreement, cooperation, harmonization, softening’.”  End Quote.

I could have used any of those synonyms instead, but I prefer the first definition of it, “a re-establishment of cordial reconciliation.”  The cordial relationship between man and God was badly ruptured when Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise because of their sin. The repercussions of man’s eviction from God’s presence festered in mankind, growing stronger and more vengeful as the millennia rolled on, until their toxic rage, like the boiling lava hurled out of Kilauea’s  magma chamber, spewed out in their shouts, “Crucify him, crucify him.”  Their violent hate and blood lust for the Son of God failed in its effort to satisfy their need for vengeance against God Himself. Instead, it brought about the most significant event in human history:  the reconciliation of all unto the Father.  That’s rapprochement in action.

“The Creation of Adam,” immortalized by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, depicts the first rapprochement between God and man, and the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was the last and final such event.  Thanks to my generous sister and her husband, Lenny and I were treated to a tour of the Vatican in 2005, and were able to enjoy this iconic work of art.  Michelangelo’s talents are beyond my ability to describe his work in words.  I can only say that he had divine help in painting this artistic masterpiece.

It seems to me that all the interpersonal relationship problems which any of us encounter, be they between God and ourselves or another person and ourselves, are due to a lack of rapprochement between individuals, family members, or countries.  All wars and toxic relationships are the result of such lack.

Here’s an e-mail which came a couple of weeks ago, from a long time reader, with a question about the essential need to forgive others if we expect God to forgive us. Earlier, she had shared about receiving harassment from a co-worker.  She wrote,

“I heard a very troubling talk on the radio. I had always thought salvation was by grace and grace alone but the woman speaker made it sound like in order to be saved someone had to forgive everyone in order to be forgiven. She said a person could not be saved if they had any un-forgiveness towards anyone.

“The Bible does say, and I am not sure the exact place, but in Mathew, that if we do not forgive our enemies neither will our Father forgive us, but I believe there has got to be an explanation for this as Salvation is Free and it is by GOD’s gift of His Son Jesus Christ ONLY. I do NOT need to add my forgiveness to qualify as that would mean I am saving myself by my work of forgiving my enemies. So How Do I explain this clear biblical WORD about forgiving others and being forgiven.  Any wisdom on this?”  End Quote.

My answer:  What you always thought is absolutely correct, confirmed by the Apostle Paul:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).  If our salvation depended on our doing or not doing something/anything, we’d all be toast.

In what has been called, “The Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus said, “For, if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15, ESV).  Sadly, the church world and religious leaders in general have projected this out to the after life, whereas I believe Jesus was giving us an important psychological truth for today, which is, that when we hold un-forgiveness in our hearts, we are incapable of receiving God’s forgiveness for ourselves. This commandment from Jesus, I believe, is for the here and now, not for after we die.

“Forgiveness often is impossible to accomplish when someone has wronged you, but all things are possible with God, who forgives through you and in you, which is why I suggested in the last memo to pray for the woman who was being mean to you.  You cannot continuously pray for someone and hold un-forgiveness for them in your heart. 

“Remember how much God loves you, what He has done for you in getting you clean and sober, and that His grace surrounds you constantly every day in every situation, whether you are aware of it or not. 

“Praying for someone or not praying for them has to be a God inspired action, not a Quid-Pro-Quo work we provide, i.e., giving God something so He will return the favor to us.”  End of my answer to her.

Like some of you, I get irritated and upset at those who treat me badly, or deliberately try to hurt me.  Remembering that Jesus prayed for the very men who were nailing his flesh to the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” I have always known that we are to forgive others, and yet sometimes it’s just too difficult.  It’s almost as difficult as forgiving ourselves, which is possibly the crux of this thorny problem.  Until we really understand the length and depth and height of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness of us, many of us hold onto guilt for old sins we’ve committed (including our failures to forgive others).  That’s a clear violation of  Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (KJV).

Yet, trust can be as difficult as forgiveness is.  So, what are we to do? Isaiah’s advice to Israel is pertinent here: “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!” (Isaiah 31:1, KJV).  Israel had received help from Egypt before, but Isaiah was warning them not to put their trust in men (they knew they couldn’t put their trust in themselves), but rather to look to God.

Regarding what we can do to save ourselves,  here’s Paul again: “For it is by grace that you are saved, through faith. This does not depend on anything you have achieved, it is the free gift of God; and because it is not earned no man can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9, Phillips).  Surely this gift of God is not limited to our salvation, but extends as well to forgiving others, trusting in the Lord, living by grace rather than by works and anything else He calls us to do or be.  We relinquish our will (with His help, of course), in order to live by His will.  

I read a daily blog published by the theology students at Notre Dame University.  A piece this week pertains to our topic.  The writer referred to the occasion when the disciples were arguing about which of them was the greatest.  In answer, Jesus took a little child in His arms, and set him in their midst, saying, “Whoever receives one of such children in My name receives Me. And whoever receives Me does not only receive Me, but Him who sent Me” (Mark 9:37, MKJV).  This verse speaks to me not of our works, because a little child isn’t capable of great works, but rather that we are only to be receivers of God’s love, which through us, He pours out to others He sends our way.  It’s all God from start to finish.

The woman writing the Notre Dame blog suggested that perhaps the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest because “Jesus showed them what they didn’t know to ask for, their own unconditional belovedness.  What a good way to express our lack.  Until we know at a cellular level how very much God loves us, has always loved us and always will love us, in spite of our best efforts to be good and/or our sinfulness, we may be worried, jealous and threatened by other folks’ seeming success, and unable to forgive any of them if they wrong us.  Knowing how much God loves us has to be a beginning step to rapprochement with those who hurt us.  He has broken down “the barrier and enmity which lay between us.”  God created us; He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, and He has reached out to all of us, His disobedient children, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Father, open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and all of our senses to see You, hear You and feel You in order to comprehend our own unconditional belovedness.  We will praise You and honor You and love You and tell of Your goodness and glory to all You put in our paths to hear it, now and forever.   “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and ever. Amen.” Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)

All our writings from 1997-2010 are on

The Glory Road

Our writings from 2010 until the present are on this blog.

We always enjoy hearing from you!

Jantonsson@aol.com

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