March 25, 2015

The Door Of Reconciliation

Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | For he himself [Christ] is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:14

If you should visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, you will find an old, weathered door dating back to the year 1492. In the center of this door, you will notice that a section of the door is missing. One of the planks making up the door has a section that has been hacked out of it—about five inches wide and a foot or so high. So what’s the story behind the door?

An inscription reads as follows: “In 1492, two great Irish families, the Butlers of Ormond and the Fitzgeralds of Kildare, were engaged in a bitter and bloody feud. Seeking sanctuary, Black James, nephew of the Earl of Ormond, and his men fled into the Chapter House. The Fitzgeralds followed in hot pursuit.

“Their leader, Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, realized that the fighting was out of control. Through the closed door he pleaded with Black James to accept a truce. Suspecting treachery, Black James refused to let Fitzgerald inside. Fitzgerald hacked a hole in the door and thrust his arm through as a pledge of his good faith.

“This daring gesture was enough. The door opened and the two warring factions received one another in peace. Some believe that this event is the origin of the expression ‘to chance your arm,’ meaning, to take the initiative. The door has become known as the ‘Door of Reconciliation’.”

That feud was described as “bitter and bloody.” Today, perhaps somewhat more civil, we have ceased from killing each other, at least most of the time, but many domestic conflicts today could be described as “bitter and brutal.” We inflict emotional wounds on each other that we bear for life.

How would you like to have been an eye-witness to the drama that unfolded with the Butlers on one side of the door, the Fitzgeralds on the other? Imagine the conversation, the disbelief that Gerald Fitzgerald was sincere when he said, “Listen, Black James, it’s time for the bloodshed to stop. Open the door and let’s talk.”

Is there a door, a wall as solid as granite, which seals you from one with whom you have had a disagreement? Try these guidelines for settling the feud.

Guideline #1: Ponder the cost of hatred and bitterness. Some feuds never end. People go to their deaths with hatred and bitterness. Those emotions not only kill friendships and relationships, they poison you as well. There’s a high cost to unresolved conflict.

Guideline #2: Seize the initiative. Like Gerald Fitzgerald, take the first step towards a truce. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said Jesus. You have a great deal to win, little to lose by calling for a cease fire.

Guideline #3: Take the risk. Remember the expression, “to chance your arm”? Hey, it’s possible that Gerald Fitzgerald could have had his arm chopped off when he sawed a hole in the door and in friendship thrust an open hand towards his enemy. True, there’s always risk in calling for a truce, but there is far greater risk in failing to do so.

Guideline #4: Break down the door. Ultimately that means forgive your enemy. Jesus was explicit. Don’t expect God to forgive you when you refuse to forgive another (see Matthew 6:14). Forgiveness doesn’t mean, “What you did to me is OK!” It means, “I give up my right to hurt you because you hurt me.” Paul wrote that God “reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Is it your husband or wife? Your brother who cheated you out of the inheritance? Your business associate who stole from you? Or whomever. It’s time to chop a hole in the door of separation and declare a truce. Be the strong one who takes the first step. Someday your grandchildren will thank you for it.

Resource reading: Ephesians 2.