At Gateway Church in Austin, we continued our series called The Restored Life.
As we start digging into things that seem to keep us stuck in our lives, we often discover relational brokenness. Others have hurt us. We have hurt others. This week, we’ll learn how to take the steps necessary to live at peace with those around us.
Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
WATCH The Gateway South Austin Inspire Service
The video below is from Gateway Austin Online:
Message Notes by Carlos Ortiz:
Over the last few weeks we have taken the time to walk our church through the first 7 steps of the 12 steps for Spiritual Growth.
I have to admit the first time I heard about the steps at Gateway, I thought they weren’t for me. I wasn’t addicted to alcohol and drugs.
I grew up in a faith tradition that believed in a God who could restore and bring new life to people spiritually, but the implication was that you then had to figure out on your own how get better emotionally, psychologically, or relationally. I would read the Bible and see that Jesus healed people – some instantaneously and others he sent off on a journey that led to healing (like the men with leprosy he sent to the priest and along their journey they were healed or the blind man who he put mud on his eyes and sent him to wash in the Jordan River).
What we didn’t have at the church where I grew up was an outlet for a journey towards healing – a way for people who really wanted to work out their issues, and walk alongside people who would know their deepest, most intimate secrets. We didn’t have a 12 step program, or a way to for those of us working through addictions and deep rooted hangups. I wish we did, because I would have walked through them when I was much younger.
So just to recap the last few weeks, here are the 7 statements we are going by in this series:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Now we’re working through a very important week, and we’ve titled it Made For This! Because we really do believe that every person who is hearing us this weekend has the ability to be a life-changer for years to come. So what are we made for? Let’s try these two next statements.
- I made a list of all persons I had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- I made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
This week we’re going to work through forgiveness, and making amends.
I don’t know about you, but 2020 has been filled with opportunities to learn how to reconcile with others. It feels like I am having to make amends with my family, my extended family, my friends, my church family, people out and about in life!
We are all on edge – all bombarded with bad news, divisive politics, the threat of illness, with many of us working and schooling from home. This has been a stressful year!
So who is on your proverbial list to reconcile with?
Who then is healthy enough to practice a biblical and wise filled approach to making amends?
1 John 2:7-11 – NIV
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
So today let’s talk about the four stages of walking through these two steps. I believe that with every step we are walking more in the light of who God is, and stepping out of dark places:
- Listing Names
- Owning our Part
- Willing to make it right
- Making Direct Amends
Let me clearly state that although we’re going to walk through some of the practical pieces of this, there are three important things I want us to keep in mind as we walk through these steps.
- Biblical counsel is important (what does the Bible say about what you are feeling and thinking?)
- Pray about it
- Don’t do this alone, walk in Wisdom with others who know how to do so
Phase 1 – Listing Names
We’re all wired differently, but if I were to give you a sheet of paper and asked you to write out your Christmas list, our nature would be to write out all the things we would like to receive for Christmas. But the assignment was to write out a Christmas list with no specification to you giving or receiving gifts. It speaks to our nature of seeking out our own self interest.
In our case, as we talk about step 8, we are endeavoring to write out a list of names. Our nature would be to write a list of names of people who have hurt us, wronged us, subjugated us to being less than, and who we had to overcome. But today we’re asking you to flip the script on yourself. Who have you wronged? Who have you thought of as less than?
If the first place we go when considering names is that we are innocent, or it wasn’t that big of a deal, then we have to search our own hearts first.
Psalm 139:23-24 – Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
We have to do the work of getting out of the way of our own selfishness, so God can begin to reveal to us those that we have hurt. This is where we pray just like David prayed, God is there any offensive way in me, show me who I truly am.
Your list may not be as exhaustive as someone else’s, it’s not the length of the list that matters, it’s the honesty and effectiveness of the list that counts.
Phase 2 – Owning Our Part
The second stage of effectively walking out steps 8 and 9 is Owning our part. What does it mean to own our part? Let’s go to:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5
When we are owning our part of dysfunction our defense mechanisms kick into high gear. We start giving ourselves a way out of owning them. We bring up family of origin, we bring the hurt they caused, and if we aren’t careful we repeat the same cycle of self-sabotage that has hurt many of us for a long time.
On the practical end:
What is the name of the person you hurt?
Sometimes acknowledging the name conjures up thoughts and emotions that some of us have been trying to avoid.
- These names conjure up an emotion, a feeling, an opinion. They bring up an era of 1994-97, and famous people dying and impacting millions of people.
- The same goes for the people who know we have hurt, the mention or acknowledgement of their name will bring with it a slew of feelings and thoughts
What did you you do to that person?
- Be specific, don’t waste energy trying to find the right words
What was the consequence of your actions?
- How did you actions negatively affect their life?
Phase 3 – Willing to Make It Right
Trying to live in the light, and not in darkness, takes a lot of effort, but so does continually living in peace.
Romans 12:18 – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
I wanted to share a simple story from the Scripturdes to better illustrate what we’re talking about.
Luke 19 – Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Zaccheus’ willingness to do what was right, was so pleasing to Jesus. Everyone else wanted to curse Zaccheus because of his unjust practices, but his repentance and willingness to make amends brought out the blessing of Jesus.
Phase 4 – Making Direct Amends
This part is super tricky, and because of that, we wanted to do it service. So a few of our leaders (B Roll of the video shoot should be in the background) got together this last week to share some wisdom on how to know if this is really your next step, and things for you to prayerfully consider as you continue to walk out your journey in the light.
Practical thoughts about making amends:
- This other person is NOT forgiving you of your sin
- Asking for forgiveness is a lifestyle
- Humility keeps you living in the light
- Growth in character keeps us from repeating old patterns
Have you ever been watching the news, or a special on television and seen the stories of people who forgave their wrongdoers? You know the people who have this supernatural ability to forgive above and beyond.
Carlos Ortiz shared the most amazing story of making Amends.
His father grew up in a rough neighborhood and became a heroin addict eventually ending up in prison where he found faith. After being released from prison, eventually he became a pastor. When Carlos was 16 and at his Dad’s church, one Sunday a young man just out of prison came to the church. At the end of the service the young man came forward to pray. He was broken, tired, weary from his journey in prison. His dad sought the help of two people on the prayer team, a married couple. When his dad was done praying for the young man and his wife, he asked him how he felt about what he had done. He said he had felt bad for killing the man he was sent to prison over. He asked him what would he say to the family of his victim, and he cried and sobbed with remorse and godly sorrow. He asked him how he felt after the prayer team couple embraced them and prayed with him, and he said he felt loved and cared for. His dad then let him know that the woman on the prayer team who loved him and cared for him and his wife, was actually the wife of the man he had killed. Carlos didn’t even believe in God at the time, but what he saw happen right in front of him impacted his life.
That young man didn’t plan on making amends, but found himself in a position of willingness, and was embraced. Both families were able to move forward in freedom and living in the light. Was it a clean transaction, NO!
Was Zaccheus transaction of regaining trust in his society clean? NO!
Will the journey towards healing for you and me be free of family drama, NO!
It does get messy, but Jesus isn’t afraid of a mess. He lived a sinless life, was crucified as an innocent man, and died a violent death on a cross, so that we could have a right that we did not earn…the right to be sons and daughters of God.
- Zaccheus’ amends brought blessing to his home
- This young man making amends gave both families freedom
- Rebuilding a relationship is what is needed but it can be really difficult.
And then we have Jesus, who is dying on a cross, taking our rightful place of death and becoming the perfect sacrifice for us.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
He didn’t proclaim, Father I forgive them, he didn’t say, Father make them pay, No, even until his death, he laid himself aside and proclaimed, Father (you) forgive them. It completed the cycle of humility.
Even when those around him were mocking him and placing bets for his clothes, he died. Even when they didn’t believe in him, he died. Even when people abandoned him, he died. Why?
Because Jesus knew that at some point we would, one by one, accept the invitation to come to a place where we needed forgiveness.
Where we needed to make amends with our Creator. Jesus begs us to come, to lay it all down, to accept the gift of life, to bring our brokenness, the poverty of our soul, and receive new life.
So that when we have life, we can extend the same generosity and forgiveness to others, so that we can in our humility ask for forgiveness, and live out his dream…to make amends to live in perfect peace, to love one another as he has loved us.