Is There Glory and Honor in Reconciliation?

Reconciliation.gifReconciliation is the “hardest” job of Christians. The “easier” job is to invite new people to Bible study. A friend said, “It’s better for UBF to reconcile with one ex-UBF member than to invite 99 new people to Bible study.” I agree. The former job (reconciliation) is messy and unpredictable. The latter job (inviting new people) is fun and exciting. The former requires humiliation and humility. The latter requires being fuzzy and friendly. The former feels like descending and dying. The latter feels like soaring and conquering. So, is there any glory and honor in seeking reconciliation?

My weakest attribute. In the short run, there is no glory and no honor in reconciliation. Why not? From the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12), my weakest attribute is to be a peacemaker (Mt 5:9); I have been a troublemaker all of my life for as long as I (and my mom) can remember. Reconciliation requires peacemaking. Peacemaking requires considering the other person above yourself. It is tough. It feels like I must crucify my ego and pride, my glory and honor, if I truly want to be a peacemaker who promotes reconciliation.

Every man’s default is to self. Even Christians who genuinely love and serve others default to self when doing so. Others benefit when we love and serve them. But we also benefit when what we do benefits others. We do receive honor and glory when we love and serve others. I feel good when I think “I am a servant of God!” I feel good when others appreciate what I have done for them in Christ. Yes, there is glory and honor when we love and serve others as Christians should.

Even to reconcile with my dearest wife is hard. I love my dear wife more than my own life. But if she seems to be cold toward me, my spontaneous reaction is “I can play the same game too!!!” It is no fun if I am proactively humble, loving and gracious if I feel she is dismissive of me (which is my oversensitivity because of always wanting to be loved by her). If it is hard with a dear spouse, what about less dear ones?

For reconciliation and peacemaking, Jesus became the utmost hideous one. On the cross, there was no glory and honor for Jesus. He became like one from whom men hide their faces (Isa 53:3). Though he was the most beautiful and majestic one (Ps 27:4; Isa 33:17), he became like one who had no beauty or majesty (Isa 53:2). On the cross Jesus lost all of his honor and glory, so that we who have no honor and glory may be conferred with honor and glory through him.

Though this messy website may cause some who enter to lose their honor and glory, may God promote reconciliation through our feeble efforts.

Without neglecting the latter, do you agree that it is more biblical and pleasing to God to reconcile with one former church member, than to find and recruit 99 new members?


  1. I agree, it is more biblical and Christ-like and pleasing to God. But it sounds very naive. A church is interested in what is more biblical. But a cult is interested to be closed and to keep those inside from talking with those outside. And a cult can survive only being closed and keeping recruiting new members. What ubf leaders are doing is easy to understand. And I think that it is imposible to reconsile with any former ubf member remaining a cult. The question is not in what is more biblical, but in whether ubf is able to make a step toward being a christian church. (I believe that ubfriends is a step but only several naive ubfers who believe that ubf is a church or is hopefully able to be a church have taken it))

    • I see the naivety you speak of, Vitaly. Indeed, as you say “A church is interested in what is more biblical. But a cult is interested to be closed and to keep those inside from talking with those outside.” I continue to be astounded by the number of ubf people talking about the dialogues going on here on this blog. Talking about someone else’s dialogue amounts to gossip in my mind. I know that the Korean way is to “beat around the bush”. But what was Jesus’ way?

  2. Dear Ben, thanks for this article. Thanks also for your heart’s desire and efforts to make reconciliation through this website and otherwise. These days I am also studying Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) and thought about the beatitudes. Yes indeed peacemaking or reconciliation is one of the way of obeying Jesus, or I call it the Kingdom lifestyle for a born-again believer. We are ‘blessed’ meaning happy, great and having a vibrant spirit, if we pursue this virtue. There is also Jesus’ promise that such persons shall be called sons of God (Mt 5:9). So there is definitely blessedness/ greatness/ glory promised to those who embrace such a lifestyle.

    The hardest part however is, not only peacemaking is costly, hardwork and messy, reconcilation is not possible independently of the seven other beatitudes. It demands ‘mercy’ without compromising ‘righteousness’ for any true reconciliation, and infact all the other seven. The beatitudes demand our whole being to crucified so that Jesus may live inside of us, and since we are not ready to come to terms with Jesus fully, we are not ready to come to terms with others as well. We are loosing our saltiness and diminishing our light as we go on ignoring our primary calling to live out the eight beatitudes in words and deeds.

    However, in spite of my own weaknesses and failures, I see hope in the fact that the Holy Spirit is reminding and helping us to be serious about the beatitudes. And He is whispering it to those who have stop becoming too much busy with what He has called us ‘to do’ and are in a specific season of their lives focusing on what He has called us ‘to be’.

    • Absolutely true, Gajanan! Thanks. Without being poor in Spirit with brokenness, helplessness and vulnerability before God and man, any attempt at reconciliation will seem nauseating and come across like patronizing.

  3. Good thoughts Ben, thanks for sharing this. The banner over ubf has been, for 50 years, “Welcome students!”. On the back of that banner is written: “Go away family-centered people.” and “Shut up, former members.”

    ubf has never been about forming leaders or developing their strengths, but has been all about seeking high and low for that “one person” who will buy into the system and prove it out for them. I was that “one person” for many years.

  4. Thanks, Brian. I will have to say that overall UBF’s evangelistic and outreach efforts have been good, if not very good.

    Yet, our weakness is a refusal to go beyond our strengths and begin to address some of our blatant obvious weaknesses, such as our overbearing authoritarianism, legalisms, excessive mission focus, and marginalizing anyone who does not “just obey,” not to mention our overweening pride and refusal to humble ourselves to apologize to those we have clearly wronged.

    These ongoing tendencies and practices by some UBF leaders are destroying UBF by obscuring and blocking Christ and the gospel from being high-lighted and exalted.

    • Ben, you mentioned something that struck me in an odd way: “our weakness is a refusal to go beyond our strengths and begin to address some of our blatant obvious weaknesses..”

      Based on what I’ve been learning recently, I would say it this way: “our weakness is that we are expressing our strengths in a negative way and need to find out how to positively apply our strengths and how to identify and utilize each members’ strengths appropriately”.

  5. I had a powerful experience of God’s leading and grace in the matter of reconciliation over the last weekend. Within less than a year of leaving UBF and after doing some great work together, I had experienced a painful split with the family of a brother with whom we had started our community. There had been misunderstandings on both sides. Over more than a year, we occasionally met, ours wives had lunch together, but it was not the same any longer. If we happen to meet, we talked on general things, but none of us could dare to utter a word over the issue on which we had very strong and different opinions. There seems to be a great wall dividing us and we were so strong about our judgment on a particular issue that any real reconciliation looked impossible. Our children could no longer freely meet and play and we were not able to explain to them why we were no longer worshiping together and had separated.

    But as I shared in my earlier comment, God had been speaking to my heart through the study of the Sermon on the Mount, especially the Beatitudes over last couple of weeks. As a result of this, I decided to meet this brother and his wife to ask their forgiveness for healing and reconciliation. It was so scary at first even to think of such a thing. When I shared this with my wife she was deeply disturbed and suffered a great deal. We both struggled with the same question, “How can we ask forgiveness instead of demanding apology from those whom we know are indeed wrong in some ways, who left us, and gave us wounds?” But the Spirit of God did not give up on us, burdened us and made us uncomfortable until we were ready to obey Jesus’ desire to make peace. So we decided to meet the brother’s family and ask their forgiveness for the wrongs we had done to them—that included angry words, emotional tone, judging them in words and thoughts.

    We had no idea what was going on with them. But as we decided to meet them, before we even make our plans to known to them, they began to open their hearts and let us know how God had changed their view points. It was almost unbelievable to us as we had thought they would never change. Finally we met, shared a meal, talked freely about the issue that had divided us, asked for each other’s forgiveness for healing. Few days before it was unthinkable, but God was working on both sides– rebuking us, correcting us, and burdening us to finally make peace. And the outcome was so liberating and wonderful.

    Sorry for this long comment, but what I am actually trying to share from this personal story are these principles that I learned about reconciliation or peace-making (Mt 5:9):

    (1)From my experience, God seems to have more urgency for reconciliation among Christians who have wounded one another than blessing their ministries (Mt 5:23-24).

    (2)We cannot be effective in our service to God and others if unresolved issues like broken relationships among Christians are not addressed and resolved with the urgency God has about it. To put it differently, the purpose for which God has called us is greatly hindered until we resolve broken relationship among brothers.

    (3)Reconciliation demands willingness to die to our ego and saying “please forgive me” rather than “I forgive you.” But it is worth dying for, because only when I die, Christ can live in me.

    (4)The thought of asking for forgiveness from a brother is dreadful, but if we are willing to take the first step, God is committed to make the way of reconciliation smoother.

    (5)Reconciliation does not mean doing the same thing together again but celebrating what God is doing in the life of the brother with whom I need to make peace and to release him to serve God in his present situation and calling, unless he finds it for himself as God’s will for him to return.

    (6)To say that reconciliation is not possible with a person because of our bad experiences with him is as bad as calling a brother ‘Raca’ or ‘you fool’ meaning calling him a reprobate (Mt 5:22) and denying the power of God. I know that things are not just ready yet, but since God has urgent, I am looking forward to a day of reconciliation with my brothers in UBF whom I have wounded and who also have given me wounds and pains.

    (7)For reconciliation among brothers, the real issue that divides needs to be addressed and resolved, but the result of any real reconciliation is not one wins and another loses, but Jesus wins whose other name is the Truth.

    Have a blessed Good Friday and Happy Easter!

    • Ab, I am so uplifted by your Spirit-led and Spirit-ordained experiences and thoughts. I’m very happy to hear about God’s work of reconciliation between your family and the other family. I’m excited to hear about the genuine work of the Holy Spirit in your families and places.

      What really resonated with me about your experience is how your wife was disturbed by your conviction that you must be reconciled with your brother. I have found that wounds that have been received as a couple really need to be reconciled as a couple. If your wife was really opposed to reconciling with the other family, how would you have responded to the Spirit’s leading to ask them forgiveness?

      The other thing you shared that resonated with me is that the goal of reconciliation is not to determine who wins and who loses, but that Jesus wins. Through being reconciled as brothers in Christ, we declare Jesus’ victory over the conflict that estranged us. Jesus accomplished the ultimate act of reconciliation between sinners and Holy God through his shed blood on the cross. In reconciling with my brother, we are allowing that ultimate reconciliation to take effect in our horizontal (brother-to-brother) relationship.

      Amen! You also have a blessed Good Friday and Easter. He has risen!

    • Thank you for this comment, AbNial. This is precisely the Spirit-led thinking I’m looking for.

  6. Thanks for sharing your beautiful account, Gajanan.

    A sad shepherding experience has unfortunately been that it has often been Win/Lose. If the sheep obeys the shepherd, the shepherd wins, the sheep loses. If the sheep disobeys/leaves the shepherd, the sheep wins, the shepherd loses. Actually in both instances, both lost!

    My observation often has been that the shepherd is so used to getting his way with the sheep, that he can never lose to the sheep. Thus, many shepherds are UNABLE to genuinely apologize to the sheep they wounded, because then they feel that they will lose face. Sorry to say, that they will remain losers the longer they refuse to apologize. Great quote from Mt 5:23-24.

  7. James Kim

    Dear Ab Nial, your testimony is very powerful and graceful. I believe through your genuine effort of reconciliation with humility, God is glorified. May God help all of us to come to the foot of the cross for continuous dialogue.

    • “But the Spirit of God did not give up on us, burdened us and made us uncomfortable until we were ready to obey Jesus’ desire to make peace.”
      Perhaps this will sound unnecessarily contentious, but isn’t it clear that Abraham is not saying that his “effort” had anything to do with this reconciliation. Rather, it was the Spirit at work, and Abraham trusted and followed. Reconciliation comes about through God’s effort. God is glorified when we resist falling back on our own understanding and follow where the Spirit is leading us, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

    • Good point, Sharon. We are just too well trained to think in terms of our “efforts”. We need to re-learn our way of thinking.

    • Hi Sharon and Chris, for a long time, I was really discouraged by Gal 5:16 “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” I misunderstood the passage to mean that when I do not gratify the desires of the flesh, I will be walking by the Spirit. Then I was always getting discouraged by my failed efforts (there’s that word again!) to not gratify the desires of the flesh. These days, the Lord is revolutionizing my understanding of this verse, helping me to be truly led by the Spirit. Amazingly, I found that the desires of the flesh are gradually being dissipated and the Spirit is helping me to win victories that I couldn’t possible win before. Such a short comment cannot describe how liberating and exciting this new spiritual journey is!

  8. “I am looking forward to a day of reconciliation with my brothers in UBF whom I have wounded and who also have given me wounds and pains.”
    Thank you, Abraham, for this beautiful story of reconciliation. I fear that we are a long way off from the hope you express for reconcilition with UBF leaders. I also hope for this, but see so little evidence of a willingness to take the blame on their part and so much eagerness still to defend their own actions. As long as they continue to defend themselves, and expect those they have wounded to approach them according to their expectations, this reconciliation is impossible.

  9. AbNial, thanks for sharing this.

    It’s really necessary to reconcile. But one thing that bothers me is that people seem believe the only problem is that people hurt each other and need to apologize. I see it a bit differently, namely as a bad and partially outright evil system/theology/ideology that hurt all of us, leaders and ordinary members, shepherds and sheep alike. Not only we ordinary members wasted our lives in boring meetings and in trying to emulate a leadership style that hurt our Bible students, not developing our talents and freely using our minds and hearts, but it also hurt the leaders, who became proud and self-righteous, believing to earn a crown in heaven when in reality they only brought dissension and hurt, and shame on the name of the church and Christianity and did God a disservice. It is good if we apologize to each other, but if we do not expose and shake off that bad theology, the same abuse will happen all over again.

    Eph 6:12 says: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” We need to ask ourselves: Why is there so much discord and hurt in a community which is composed mostly of nice and friendly people with good intentions? My understanding is that it is because of some fundamentally wrong and harmful concepts that have permeated this community from the beginning. These bad concepts need to be challenged to solve the problems fundamentally. This “little yeast” spoils everything good that could come out of the community. I made the experience that once people shook off this bad mentality, once they started to think freely, we didn’t even need to talk much, we were kind of instantly reconciled. It’s as if people are under a bad spell that makes them misbehave and hurt each other. But luckily it’s possible to shake that spell off. The first step is to not deny the problems and become aware of that bad spell.

  10. Yes.
    “My understanding is that it is because of some fundamentally wrong and harmful concepts that have permeated this community from the beginning. These bad concepts need to be challenged to solve the problems fundamentally.”
    I totally agree. Rather than test people’s loyalty to UBF “core values”, we need to put these very values to the test

  11. @Joshua, Yes, living by the Spirit is not based on our own efforts (to deny ourselves) and the efforts of your good intentioned sacrificial shepherd to “fix you.” What some of our UBF leaders needs to do is to simply “back off.” God knows better than they do! What a surprise is that.

    @Chris, Yes, bad theological understanding about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and the Bible IS the root problem. So some UBF leaders play the role of God, Jesus, Holy Spirit in the lives of their sheep, and they interpret the Bible based on their own understanding and UBF experience, or on the understanding of their older shepherd or leader. This is of course very serious and has led to ALL the problems expressed on UBFriends.