This Weekly Focus looks at the ‘Unreconciled’ – groups of people who stay under the radar of our usual networks and Christian enterprises, and are often hidden in plain sight in our families, congregations, communities and nations. Jesus’s life and work, culminating in his death and resurrection, was to make us all aware of our Unreconciled state before God and was to change that forever by going to the cross.
Reflecting on the ‘Unreconciled’ involves questioning how we form and sustain relationships. How do strangers become friends? What do we do when a new family moves in next door? What does it take to get to know new colleagues at work, new neighbours, a new class of children at school, a new boy or girlfriend, a new family, a new church community? Are there some people who are so different, so ‘other’ that we think twice before offering hospitality, a welcome into the family, or even friendship? Where do they fit in to our networks and webs of relationship? Are there people who remain Unreconciled because we don’t know how to reach out to them, or don’t want to?
We should turn our attention to the Unreconciled among us, the lonely, those in poverty, those who are sick. Jesus is waiting for us to find him in those people in the hope that those people will find him in us. Click To Tweet
Prayer of reflection
Help us to turn strangers into friends,
Learning each other’s language
Knowing each other’s culture,
Finding out what makes them love, laugh, cry,
Turn to us in time of need.
Help us always to see the Other
As a treasure house of riches
Put there by you for us to discover
And may they
find treasure in us, too. Amen
One of the things Jesus wanted to do was to get people to see and recognise a common humanity in other people. It is easy to be kind and caring towards people we know and love, but harder to act on behalf of people we don’t know, who are foreign to us, who speak and act differently or whose lives and customs we don’t understand. He also wanted to make the point that we need to work on our ability to see the need and the good in others and respond to it, because by doing that we also affect our relationship with God. So, in the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25.31-45), Jesus shocks his hearers by suggesting that his followers have neglected him, ignored him and failed to help him and so the relationship between him and them is damaged and broken and he will say ‘I don’t know you’ in return. When the disciples protest that they have never neglected the Lord he tells them that everyone who is in need must be attended to, and if they are not, it is just the same as if he himself, the person they love, has been ignored and neglected. In other words, Jesus tells us that there should not be groups of Unreconciled people left adrift in our society and for as long as there are, we are not reconciled with him either. So we should turn our attention to the Unreconciled among us, the lonely, those in poverty, those neglected, those who are sick, those whose faith is a struggle. Jesus is waiting for us to find him in those people in the hope that those people will find him in us.
This reflection is based on the ‘Self and other’ study from our Lent 2011 resources produced by the Mission Theology Advisory Group (MTAG).