Do we make light of the Day of Reconciliation on December 16 each year? Have our feelings slumped into seeing this day as just another public holiday or does it generate meaningful engagement with other peoples? The Day of Reconciliation is a public holiday in South Africa. The origins of the celebration for the Afrikaners goes back to the Day of the Vow, celebrated in commemoration of the Voortrekker victory over the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River on 16 December 1838. This day was seen more from a spiritual perspective … a day of worship and thanksgiving as certain people looked to the past. For many this day and it origin brings hurt in place of joy. After apartheid ended and our democracy started, the same date was maintained as a public holiday to promote reconciliation and national unity between different “racial groups”. I do agree with the holiday and the sentiment … though I do struggle with a few problems, such as …
(1) The day could be “wasted” by political campaigns in place of building harmony between ethnicities.
(2) The day could be wasted as another day off from work to do gardening or be lazy.
(3) The day could be used as I all too often do … having a braai with friends. May I suggest that however we use the day, to include a time of thanksgiving to God for a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy? That in itself was a miracle from God to this nation of ours. Then, throughout the year we ought to activity seek true and meaningful reconciliation with all peoples, irrespective of their ethnicity, language and culture. The Church alto often misses out on great opportunities and bridge building for gospel purposes because we don’t seek to be reconciled to all people as a nation. Remember, before we can bring God to people, we need to express true love to all people because this is the outworking of the Second Greatest Commandment.
Mk 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
You cannot love God if you don’t love your neighbor. This requires reconciliation between the “them” and the “us”, whoever the “them” and whoever the “us” are. This in itself is saying to you and me that we need firstly to be reconciled to God before we can be reconciled to man.
1) Reconciliation to God requires Jesus’ Blood Sacrifice! Political reconciliation has its limitations. We can coerce and even force this type of reconciliation upon people, but it will not bring about the desired results. Take the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was an effort to bring about healing related to the gross injustices of the past but it lacked certain ingredients to make it successful. Even today many people look backwards at this commission with contempt and scorn. They say justice was not done. It was led by two clergymen, Desmond Tutu and Alexander Boraine.
Ro 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
There are two words that we might easily mix up when trying to promote reconciliation. They are …
(1) Justice. This word means to “make right”. Before anything else, “justice” is a relational term. From a Biblical perspective it means to live in a right relationship with God, each other as well as the creation around us. Because God is just and loving, those belonging to Him are called to do justice and live in love.
(2) Justification or justify. Justification is God declaring a sinner righteous because of the meritorious work of Jesus Christ. Once justification takes place, God incorporates that soul who is now justified into His family. He reconciles that soul to Himself through Jesus’ shed blood because He hast justified the soul to satisfy His justice. He takes the soul lost is sin, unable to make itself right with God and unable live in reconciliation with others, applying the blood of Jesus, washing away all sin, guilt and rebellion. The application of the Pure, Sinless Blood satisfies God’s justice and once this legal procedures occurs, justification of the soul is immediate. The soul is set free, not by anything done personally, but because God applied Jesus’ meritorious salvific work to this soul’s account. Until this procedure has been executed, there cannot be reconciliation with God and if there is not reconciliation with God there cannot be any reconciliation with man. I am not a politician … just a pastor … but I see the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s task failing right here … because the God of reconciliation was left out of the attempt to reconcile.
2) Reconciliation to God requires reconciliation with man. Once the soul has progressed across that invisible line demarking the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of Light … and declared “righteous” by God, then that soul must use every possible opportunity, ability and resource to bring lost souls to Jesus for the purpose of reconciliation with God. Flowing from this, reconciliation with man must follow.
2Co 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
If true reconciliation with God means God “not counting our sins against us”, then we need to receive all such souls without holding their sins against them. Our problem is that we find it harder to forgive than God does. Father, You know our hearts, grant us a forgiving spirit in Jesus. Amen.