Monday, November 24, 2008

"Charge it to my Account"

We have been talking about reconciliation a bit over the last month or so. It is so important to keep the peace between brothers and sisters in Christ, between family members, between friends and neighbors. 

What I have become much more aware of over recent weeks is the immense value you are to me. How long it takes to develop relationships and yet how fragile they can be at times. The value and the fragility makes them all the more important to preserve. It is just not OK to loose friends or be at odds with each other, it is just too costly.

The Lord has asked us to be reconciled and has given us both the "word" and the "ministry" of reconciliation. 

The problem is that we don't relish the idea of humbling ourselves in order to begin the sometimes difficult process. There is  a real sense of being wronged as well as a very real feeling that the other person does not deserve the effort it will take, we often feel, perhaps especially, that we are "owed". Fairness and equity scream for satisfaction and all of this has a bearing on the emotion we feel when facing the task.

The little postcard of a letter called Philemon gives us the wonderful principal that lies at the heart of reconciliation.

Philemon was a dear and close friend of Paul. Philemon had a slave by the name of Onesimus who had stolen from his master and run away. As ONI made a run for it he ended up, of all places, in prison with none other than the great apostle Paul himself.

You'll have to read the whole letter to get the full impact of the friend-to-friend tone of the letter, Paul pours it on pretty thick, it is pretty funny! Paul writes the letter to urge his friend to take his slave (and now brother in Christ) back with open arms. Then Paul says to Philemon, "If he has wronged you at all or owes you anything, charge it to my account". 

Philemon owed Paul much! Paul said whatever debt ONI owes you... charge it to me. 

Doctrinally this is called imputation. it is a banking term that means charged to the account of. As it relates to our faith it means that Jesus, through the work of the cross, cancelled our debt and charged to our account His righteousness - it's huge.  

Practically, as it relates to reconciliation it means this... and this is key. It means that when I reconcile (also a banking term by the way) I don't have to worry about the "owing" or "fairness". Jesus is the one asking for the reconciliation and he says, let me worry about the debt owed, I'll take care of that. 

We do not reconcile for our sake primarily, nor for the sake of the relationship, nor for the sake of the other party. We reconcile for Jesus' sake and any outstanding debts that might remain, He has got that covered.

This means that I can be reconciled in a hurry as there is no settling up that need to take place. It was all handled at the cross.