I am continuously amazed by the beauty that the Lord has threaded through the brokenness here on earth. In fact, beauty amidst brokenness is the very story of the gospel, and the story of the world.
When most of us think of beauty, we think of its physical nature. And though the Lord has indeed woven this aesthetic beauty through the brokenness of the tangible creation—beauty in the skies, in the freckles of a small girl, in the way the air smells after a spring storm—what I find even more profound is the beauty in the intangible things.
Reconciliation is one of the most beautiful reflections of the gospel that we can witness in this broken world. When wrong is made right, when hurting friends finally speak again, when a spouse or a child comes home after a dispute—we are touched by the restoration of these moments because, in them, we are reminded of how we have already been reconciled to our Savior.
I have always been struck by the urgency of the command in the following passage embedded in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5:
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
I used to wonder every time I read these verses: Why would I leave God’s altar to go sort out petty matters with someone? Couldn’t I do that later, or tomorrow, and prioritize my time with God?
In the past few years, after suffering costly misunderstandings of my own, and after witnessing severed relationships between close friends, I have begun to better understand the heart of this passage. These verses aren’t about leaving the altar to go sort out the misunderstanding with a friend in order to check off a box for God, or in order to be more holy in His presence. Rather, our reconciling with our brothers and sisters is so prioritized by God because we can only understand His sacrifice and saving grace for us—His bringing us to Himself in the greatest act of reconciliation—if we can extend this grace to those in our own lives, humbling ourselves to try and make things right.
Stories of reconciliation in this broken world are so beautiful to us because they remind us of the Savior who first brought us home to make things right. It is because they echo the story of our own salvation.
The parable of the prodigal son is one of the greatest stories of being reconciled in the entire Bible. In this story we find that—even when the son has fled, has squandered his father’s resources, and feels entirely unworthy of his father’s grace or pity—a father’s love for his son is unchanging.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found’” (Luke 15:20-24).
These are chill-inducing words, especially when we acknowledge that the story is a mere reflection of our Father’s vast grace and favor toward us, shown to us even when we were defiled in sin and unworthy of being reconciled to Him at all. In spite of this, our holy God has drawn us back to Himself to restore us, to make right our relationship, and to lavish us with His glory.
In light of this great love that has been shown to us by God in restoring us to Himself, may we be challenged today, this week, and always to extend the grace of reconciliation to those around us in our lives. May we humble ourselves and trample our pride to finally make that neglected phone call, to speak words of honesty and truth into hurting friendships, and to seek the kind of peace and completeness—shalom—that the Bible praises. Though we will never achieve it perfectly, or even close, may we still seek to show love in the model of our Father’s selfless love for us.
This pattern of reconciling, and being reconciled, is the beautiful truth of the gospel of Christ, and it is the story of the whole Bible. If we trust in the Lord, it is our story. And the more that we seek it out ourselves, we find that shadows of this same story are in every moment, every day, woven through the world’s brokenness in a ribbon of divine beauty.