Thought: Unity and Reconciliation without Accountability
By Rev. Leo H. McCrary II – January 17, 2021
Key Verse – Luke 17:1
Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offense should come” – offenses are going to happen in this world – you are going to be wronged. My thought: Is it possible to have unity without accountability? In last week’s sermon – Be Careful of Who You Follow – I focused on following after conspiracies, but I also began to focus on being in fellowship with God. I referenced John’s first epistle in which John said, “If we walk in the Light (that is to be in fellowship with Christ), we have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7).”
To be in fellowship with another involves being compassionate towards others. We, in some way or another, have a relationship with all of those around us, right? I wonder though, are we truly compassionate towards them? So, I want to continue looking at true fellowship in this week’s sermon.
Two Types of Relationships
I believe there are two types of relationships. There are healthy (functional) relationships and unhealthy (dysfunctional) relationships. In a healthy and functional relationship there is communication and emotional support. In this relationship, we find that both parties (people) enjoy the relationship and are there for each other. Any issues and obstacles are overcome together; they grow together, and prosper together as they uplift one another to new heights.
In an unhealthy and dysfunctional relationship there is more tearing down than there is uplifting. How does this happen? This happens because there is little to no communication and emotional support. In order for a relationship to work, you need both communication and emotional support. If these things are lacking and there is no growth, then there isn’t much happiness or joy in that relationship. One hurts the other or they both end up hurting each other.
Your fellowship with others
I say this because it is important for the type of relationships that we look to build and have with others. If we are going to be in fellowship with one another, it should be a healthy relationship that is strong and good for growth. So, ask yourself, is there good communication and emotional support with who you have surrounded yourself with?
On a larger scale, our society is made up of many different communities that are in fellowship together with one another. I often wonder about the type of relationship we are in as a society. I often wonder if there is communication? Is there emotional support? Do we see real growth and progress in our society? (When I say growth and progress, I do not mean financial growth and progress.)
Honestly, I’m not sure we have ever had a society that’s in a healthy relationship. Why do I say that? Well, there isn’t much growth or progress in our society when you really stop and think about it. Dr. Martin L. King was assassinated over 50 years ago and the battles he fought were battles that were being waged before him and they are still being fought to this day.
We are essentially still stuck in a society with obvious racial disparities. When spoken of, it gets thrown under a rug. Our society is essentially still stuck with obvious gender disparities for women and when women speak on it, they get mocked. So, there’s not much communication going on in our fellowship as a society. There is not much emotional support going on in this fellowship that is supposed to be the USA. We are, in my opinion, in an unhealthy abusive relationship.
This does not sound like true fellowship to me, especially for a society that considers itself to mostly Christian. So, the question is, how does such a relationship get repaired? How does one go about reconciling a relationship? How should reconciliation work when we are in fellowship with one another so that there can be harmony and unity?
You have probably been hearing a lot about reconciliation since last week. Reconcile is defined as: to restore to friendship or harmony. For example: two friends have a fight or argument about something and they work to reconcile their differences. What I want to do in this message is take a look at how true reconciliation works in any sort of relationship. For there to be a true reconciling of differences, there is something that must happen. So, I am going to take a look at this through scripture for the spiritual insight that this subject requires.
Separated from God
A fellowship that had gone sour and had become dysfunctional is shown to us throughout scripture. The relationship that I speak of was between God and mankind. I believe, at one point in time in the garden, that man had the glow of God’s glory about him because he was in fellowship with God. God would visit with man and dwell with Him.
Yet, we know that this relationship soured when mankind fell to sin in the garden. Paul wrote that this fellowship was so torn that man and God once stood in opposition to each other (Rom. 5:10); separated by a wall of sin. Yet, there was reconciliation between God and man that tore down that barrier that caused opposition.
This reconciliation did not happen by anything that mankind did! Though mankind stood in opposition to God, we know that God still loved the world and gave of Himself (John 3:16). Through His manifestation in the world (as Christ), the Lord communicated openly to mankind what He expected of us when being in fellowship with Him. God said to love Him and turn from our wicked ways and turn to Him (Luke 13:2-5)! The Lord then told us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (be in fellowship with one another)!
So, in the reconciling of His relationship with mankind, I want you to see that God was compassionate towards us in giving His Son. Secondly, I want you to see that God then offered a personal rebuke to what we, mankind, was doing wrong to Him. Again, this is how healthy relationships work, one side holds the other accountable for when they have done wrong. For the relationship to fully be reconciled, it is now up to the one who has done wrong to stand accountable and make corrections to stop doing wrong.
Holding others accountable
I reference this next passage of scripture from Luke’s gospel quite a bit when talking about relationships and repentance. (I feel that this is the best passage of scripture when it comes to explaining about how the two are supposed to work). Jesus says to the disciples in this scripture (Luke 17:1-4), “Take heed (pay attention) to yourselves. If your brother sins against (wrongs) you, rebuke him (Luke 17:3).”
If you love yourself, and if you love those that you are in fellowship with, then let it be known when you have been wronged! This is the same step that God took with mankind because He truly does love us! He offered His rebuke and we should do the same with those we love. This, I believe, happens in our society today because we honestly do love this society but we want to be treated right! We should certainly seek to hold people accountable when we have been done wrongly.
If the one who has done wrong chooses to stand accountable and repent (turn from doing wrong), Jesus says in that same verse that we should forgive them. Forgiveness, of course, for us does not happen overnight but we should at least work to do so. This is how healthy relationships should work! When we are in a healthy relationship, we should always work to reconcile our differences with each other. This calls for both holding someone accountable and for them to repent.
Wrong doers must repent
Yet, often is the case that many people choose the route of trying to move on in a relationship without any reconciliation. They choose to go the ‘what-about-ism’ route calling on what others have done to justify their actions. They fight against being held accountable because in their minds, they have done no wrong. Yet, at the same time, they offer to still move in unity. My question would be: how can there be unity without one being accountable for their actions? How does that work?
I don’t believe it works. The reason I don’t believe it works is because God does not accept it in His fellowship with us. I believe when one chooses not to stand accountable for their actions but continue on in their ways, they end up doing nothing but hurting themselves and those around them. Such actions are what lead to dysfunction and abusive relationships.
We should work to reconcile our relationships with each other because God did the same for us. We forgive one another because God forgave us (Eph. 4:32). There cannot be any sort of reconciliation and fellowship with God, when one chooses not to stand accountable and repent from their way. I want you to understand that this is also true when it comes to fellowship with one another!
Why our society struggles still
I feel that this is why our society still struggles now: the hurt communities are not being heard or emotionally supported. We struggle because society is in a dysfunctional relationship with itself. People are hurting and it seems that only the privileged are being lifted up. I heard Charles Barkley say the other day that the wealthy athlete should be getting the vaccine before anybody because they pay more in taxes.
Our society is depraved in its thoughts. How can we be in true fellowship with one another when those who are in need don’t have their needs met because of such incredibly poor thinking? I have seen politicians and other wealthy members get the vaccine first – even those that once called COVID-19 a hoax for political reasons. It makes no sense how we treat each other.
How do we reconcile our differences in this society? The answer is simple — we must move on from our depraved ways of thinking. We must change our ways. Uplift those who have been hurting for so long. Help those who are in need. Remove the barriers that continue to separate us from living in harmony. Whatever barriers are causing you not to live in unity with those that you are in personal fellowship with, we must work to remove such. If we can start with ourselves, it is possible that such actions will spread to those around, and then throughout the greater communities that make up our society.