25 March 2011

Question of the Week:

by Anne Lang Bundy

I'm calling in sick this week, and guess what would make me feel great?

Send more questions! My pile is getting low, and hearing about your curiosity in Christianity and the Bible is sure to provide a pick-me-up.

I plan to be back next week.

~ Anne

18 March 2011

Question of the Week:
What is Biblical Reconciliation?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Sculpted by Josefina de Vasconcellos
(image source: trinityfellowship.net)

What is the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, (in the sense of being available for further abuse)?
~ Anonymous

Last week's post provided some contrasts from the Bible about forgiveness, separation and accountability. This week offers some examples of how enmity, forgiveness and reconciliation might play out.

Three important notes in preface:

• if a Christian experiences enmity, relationship with Christ will bring the desire to eliminate it;

• the below examples of forgiveness and reconciliation are biblical ideals toward which God's Holy Spirit enables us to work, whether or not we reach them;

• the person who has been wronged should not only be ready to forgive and reconcile, but also ask God if there is anything for which he or she should repent and ask forgiveness.

"Love your enemies,
bless those who curse you,
do good to those who hate you,
and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;
for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?
Do not even the [heathen] do the same?"
~ Jesus (Matthew 5:44-46)


You hurt me and I hope you suffer for it.

I want to hurt you back, whether I do it openly or secretly, with or without restraint.

I want you out of my life. Your death wouldn't bother me. Killing you myself isn't out of the question.


If I hate you, it will hurt me more than it will hurt you, so I release my enmity. God's forgiveness and love enable me to forgive and love you, and I choose to do so.

I am willing to hold you accountable for your wrongdoing with the hope that your repentance will enable full reconciliation between you and God, between you and me.

I ask God to do good things for you. I seek opportunity to be an agent of His blessing. I wait for God to heal the injury you have done to me. I hope God will move you to become an agent of that healing by your right response to Him, expressed to me.


Whether you and I associate peaceably or have no contact, your lack of repentance has prevented reconciliation between us. But my forgiveness prevents enmity toward you—even if circumstances prevent me from escaping further injury. Though I desire reconciliation with you, I instead reconcile myself to knowing I have done as much as I can. I am at peace.

You have repented—you have acknowledged your wrong against me, you have expressed remorse and apology, and you may have reconciled yourself to God through Jesus. Forgiveness and repentance enables you and I to experience reconciliation. But until your cooperation with God enables you to overcome the behavior which led you to hurt me, we cannot share the level of relationship I still hope for, which I pray God brings to pass. I am at peace.

Your thorough repentance and my thorough forgiveness have enabled our reconciliation to God and to each other. We are brother(s) and sister(s) through Jesus Christ and are free to enjoy that relationship in love. I am at peace.

Now all things are of God,
who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation ...
and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NKJV)
Photo credit: Ed Gardener, Flickr.com

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

11 March 2011

Question of the Week:
Forgiveness or Reconciliation?

by Anne Lang Bundy

What is the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation (in the context of being vulnerable to further abuse)?
~ Anonymous

Once again, a question is posed which defies adequate explanation on a lone page. This week, five contrasts from the Bible will be presented. Next week will look at how biblical truth plays out in relationships.

Accountability & Forgiveness:

"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more ... if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen ..." (Matthew 18:15-17 NKJV)

"Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV)

Holding someone accountable for doing wrong to you, with a goal of reconciliation, is separate from the unrelenting forgiveness of heart that Jesus teaches.

Non-resistance & Escape:

"But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." (Matthew 5:39 NKJV)

And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?" ... Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him. (Acts 22:25,29 NKJV; other examples of escape are Acts 5:17-20; 9:23-25;12:7-10)

Jesus both taught and set the example of accepting abuse without retaliation. But we should avoid injury when possible.

Marriage, Separation, Divorce:

A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife... If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And [likewise] a woman ... if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. (1 Corinthians 7:10-15 NKJV)

God hates divorce. If separation is necessary, Christians are instructed to remain unmarried and work for reconciliation. Only if the non-believing spouse divorces is the believer released from the marriage. (An exception is divorce for sexual immorality—see "Can Marital Sex be Sinful?")

Willing Suffering:

But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. (1 Peter 2:20-21 NKJV)

There really are some circumstances when suffering is preferable to quitting a situation or quitting a person. God's will and guidance are necessary for discernment.

Peace With Others & Peace Within:

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:17-18 NKJV)

Reconciliation doesn't always happen after we offer forgiveness. As much as depends on us, we must offer peace—and then be at peace.

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
Image source: "Reconciliation in Sri Lanka"

06 March 2011

Nice is Overrated

By Russell Holloway

Last week my oldest son told me while we were standing around in the kitchen, “You are a pretty good dad, but I wish you were a little nicer.”

This made me laugh. Lucas is a talented and tough negotiator. There is little doubt in my mind that he could represent the International Brotherhood of Teamsters some day. And, I am sure he was being honest when he said that I am not always nice.

I admit that I have a temper that gets away from me now and then, but his comment had more to do with recent disappointment in not getting what he wanted than it did with me not being nice.

You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes. ~Walter M. Schirra, Sr.

In any case, being nice is not my job as a parent. Friendship destroys the parent/child relationship. Friends are equals. When a parent and child start behaving as equals chaos and misery, for everyone, soon follow.

My job as a parent is to love my children. Love is teaching my children. Love is being patient with my children. Love is listening to my children and showing them affection.

Love is often saying no to my children and disciplining them, sometimes at the risk of making them angry with me or causing great disappointment in their lives. When this happens in our home I sometimes think my heart will stop, literally, but what my children learn is more important than what they temporarily think about me.

God has blessed me with two amazing boys. In the kitchen Lucas wrapped his arms around me, shut his eyes, and said, “I love you daddy.” I know he does. And, I love him and his brother more than life.

... Father, thank You for Your son. Thank You for the gift of children. Let us never take them for granted. Father, we cannot raise them without Your love and help. Give us the courage to be good parents. In Jesus name ...

04 March 2011

Question of the Week:
Worldly Fear or Godly Fear?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Image source: science.howstuffworks

What is the difference between worldly fear and godly fear?
~ Russell Holloway, Blog Host
from the post Love is greater than fear

The short answer might be that worldly fear is motivated by self-protective pride and lust (a wide variety of self-indulgences), while godly fear is motivated by godly love. The Bible says that even Jesus experienced godly fear:

... in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
~ Hebrews 5:7-8 (NKJV)

If my love for another is self-centered, I recognize their potential to hurt me and am likely to limit myself to "safe" expressions of love which cater to the other person and still protect myself.

When my love is other-centered, I see the potential of my weaknesses to do injury to the one I love and have genuine fear of doing so. I am willing, if necessary, to both experience and cause pain if I am assured that doing so gives my loved one what is truly needed. The other-centered love—agape love—which accompanies godly fear values the relationship built up by reciprocal love and seeks to receive it. But agape love is stronger than my desire to experience temporal comfort or pleasure.

Godly fear only begins with the self-protective recognition that my heavenly Father's necessary discipline involves the training and correction which can be painful, and therefore attempts behavior to avoid discipline. (What athlete expects to excel without disciplined training that involves pain and correction?)

Godly fear holds a love for God that understands the injury to Him my sin has caused. Godly fear calls to mind the sufferings of Jesus on my behalf and has a heart which desires to cause Him no more pain.

For all that is in the world—
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life
—is not of the Father but is of the world.
~ 1 John 2:16 (NKJV)

The worldly fear which does not come from God also involves love—disproportionate love for self above love for God and others. Pride wishes self to be built up rather than use the power of God to edify others and exalt God. Lust for personal and temporal gratification does not possess the sound mind which sees the broader perspective of what provides lasting and unified peace among self, God, and others.

You may recall the verse about God offering not worldly fear, but rather power, love and a sound mind. The next verse explains what's also included:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.
~ 2 Timothy 1:7-8 (NKJV)

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.