It is as we open the door for people to change, as we start rebuilding lives rather than watch them continue to unravel that we find the true goal isn’t just between two people, but between us and God.
Reconciliation Advances through Repentance (Gen. 50:15-20) So far in the account of Joseph, running towards reconciliation, we’ve seen testing, we’ve seen fear and cowering, but this is the first time that we get to see repentance. 15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” With Jacob’s death, we see that rebuilding a broken relationship is a process more than a pinnacle moment.16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
They send a manufactured letter superficially on behalf of their father, but finally the brother’s throw themselves before Joseph—fulfillment of the dream he had as a boy—his brothers bowing down to him not in ignorance of his identity but in acknowledge of his faithfulness and their sin. You would think repentance would make them appear weak—and yet in their weakness they find grace. Joseph is able to put on for a moment the glasses of God—perfect 50:20 vision to see the world as God promised it would be.Finally, Joseph gets a moment on the mountaintop to see beyond the frontlines of the war that has raged in his family. When is the last time you sought to put on God’s perfect 50:20 vision? What would your family look like if it wasn’t bogged down in a prolonged battle? What would your workplace look like if Monday mornings were full metal jacket? Instead of being driven by pride what if you were the peacemaker that took a what-if and turned it into what is… Philippians 2:4-5–Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Christ who showed us the price of the peace we possess—a peace that came from him being pierced on the cross; a peace which allows us the prize of living like Jesus only because he was first willing to live like us; a peace which caused him to take possession of the sins of this world, so we could be called saints in the world to come.
Bill Hybels shared an interesting experience after a baptism service in their church that should remind us all that when we feel like it is too late for reconciliation, that when we think God’s plan could never produce—He is ways are above our ways. He wrote: “I bumped into a woman in the stairwell who was crying. I thought this was a little odd, since the service was so joyful. I asked her if she was all right. She said, ‘No, I’m struggling.’ She said, ‘My mom was baptized today. I prayed for her every day for almost 20 years. The reason I’m crying is because I came this close to giving up on her. At the 5-year mark I said, “Who needs this? God isn’t listening.” At the 10-year mark I said, “Why am I wasting my breath?” At the 15-year mark I said, “This is absurd.” At the 19-year mark I said, “I’m just a fool.” But I just kept praying. Even with a weak faith I kept praying. Then she gave her life to Christ, and she was baptized today.
Don’t give up today, because Christ hasn’t given up on you—Where can you give God an opening to do the impossible through you so others can see Christ in you? Robert Frost wrote a famous poem called Mending Walls about two farmers that each spring would meet at their rock wall bearing standing and blister their hands repairing it—neither sure why it still stood—no cows to contain or lives to divide—but stuck in the familiar refrain: “Good fences make good neighbors.”
It’s time that we stop living lives surrounded by walls. As President Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, Germany he made a demand that God makes in our lives—so barriers don’t block us from God’s blessing—“Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!” The results can bring two sides back together again.