Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Be Happy: Receive & Reconcile

The June 2009 issue of The Atlantic Magazine has a very interesting article, What Makes Us Happy by Joshua Wolf Shenk; it is the review of a 72 year long longitudinal study of 268 Harvard college men. BL: Few are happy. But for those of us looking for the key to happiness or the way to live well, here's a clue. The study found that men with strong sibling (or family) relationships and deep faith were more likely to be happy; a key adaptation technique that they use to handle life's challenges is altruism (humor helps too!!!). All of this should be no surprise to us. Christ's ministry on earth was not just about God coming to live on earth in human form; Christ came to reconcile man's broken relationship with his creator. Naturally, one of the first things that happens when somebody accepts Christ and starts to follow him is that he receives reconciliation - wounds are healed and not only his relationship with God is restored but with others too. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5: 18.

In John 20: 21-23, Jesus sends the disciples, along with the Holy Spirit, and gives them the authority to forgive: Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’John 20: 21 - 23. This passage has historically been interpreted as the authority for church discipline (e.g. the sacrament of penance) but Calvin's commentary suggests that forgiveness be proclaimed in Christ's name, thereby bringing about reconciliation in the relationship, community, and with God. According to Calvin "the whole doctrine of godliness, and the spiritual building of the Church, rests on this foundation, that God, having acquitted us from all sins, adopts us to be his children by free grace." All that we are has been given to us freely - why not be unselfish and give freely too. Of everything - love, forgiveness and more?


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