Repentance & Forgiveness

Wrestling With God

Whether we like it or not, to live as human beings we need good relationships with others around us. For good relationships we can, up to a point, choose people we like. But there are some relationships given to us without our consent. Among the most important are our father, mother, brothers, and sisters. There may be some among these who we want at times and also some we don’t want at other times. When we don’t want them we get separated from them and try to live without them. But since they are given to us without our consent it is impossible to change their relationship to us, and our conscience keeps troubling us about broken relationships.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, we come across a man who faced this dilemma. His name was Jacob. Using a cunning deceit he took the blessing of his brother and ran away from him. But after making his way successfully he decided to be reconciled to his brother. Because of the past, this was not easy. The night before he was to meet his brother he could not sleep. I am sure he would have been thinking all sorts of things. He was concerned about the things he had done against his brother and. was determined to repair his relationship with his brother. He knew that what he had done against his brother was against the will of God. Thinking of this he wrestled with God in his conscience.

Here I am reminded of a saying of Jesus. He said "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." (Matt 5:23-24 23)

Jesus said this to show that it is of no use to offer a sacrifice to God when our relationships are not right with our brothers or sisters. Our relationships with our brothers and sisters are integrally connected to our relationship with God. In the story of Jacob, it seems that his relationships with his brother and God were almost synonymous.

This is in line with the following saying in the first letter of John. If someone says, "I love God and hate my brother", he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: "that he who loves God must love his brother also" (1 John 4:19-21). According to the writer of this epistle, he received this saying from Jesus himself. This is very well explained in the creation story by showing that human beings have been created in the image of God.

To have a right relationship with our brothers and sisters one thing is essential. That is justice. There cannot be right relationships with lasting peace without justice. Therefore if we deny justice to our brothers and sisters directly or indirectly we cannot have a right relationship with God.

Justice for our brothers and sisters is not a single thing. It is a process. If we are to have a right relationship with God we must involve ourselves in this process.

Therefore as servants of God let us commit ourselves to bring justice to his people and build bridges to reconcile his people who are our brothers and sisters in God.