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The Extended Hand

by Alan Allegra  
3/10/2010 / Holidays

Teddy Roosevelt and William "Bill" Taft were best friends; in fact, Teddy groomed Bill to succeed him as President. Bill did succeed Teddy; however, things did not go as planned. Teddy expected Bill to carry on Teddy's policies in the White House, but Bill proved weak and ineffective. Their friendship broke down, and Teddy later ran against him in a bitter campaign. Both lost the race to Woodrow Wilson.

Five years later, Taft learned that Roosevelt was dining alone in a hotel, so he approached Teddy's table. Teddy rose with hand extended. The two vigorously shook hands, slapped backs, and smiled and bowed to the cheering diners. The former enemies were reconciled.

The concept of reconciliation has been much in the news of late, as the President scrambles to pass a health care bill. We reconcile our checkbook to our bank statement. We may have to reconcile ourselves to a job or benefits loss.

Reconcile means to make friendly again; to harmonize or settle; to bring into agreement. Teddy and Bill were friendly again; the President wants to settle the health care issue; we bring our check register into agreement with the bank's records. We harmonize our job situation with Psalm 103:2: "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." The following verse focuses on the greatest of all benefits, which is the greatest story of reconciliation ever told: "Who forgives all your iniquities" (v. 3a).

In the Garden of Eden, God was grooming the first man and woman to carry on his policies in his kingdom. "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'" (Genesis 2:16, 17). Adam, Eve, and every person ever born has proven weak and ineffective, disobeying God, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Friendship with the Creator has broken down, "your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you" (Isaiah 59:2).

Herein lies the reason for the Easter season. On Good Friday, we commemorate Christ's death on the cross, bearing the penalty for our sins; "that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them" (2 Corinthians 5:19). At the cross, God extended his hand to his enemies. He proved his sincerity by raising Jesus from the dead on Sunday: "He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25).

Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior makes us more than friendly: "To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). Believing in Christ harmonizes and settles accounts: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Confessing our sins brings us into agreement with God: "If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:10).

When we let sin come between God and us, we lose. When we are reconciled, the spectators cheer: "Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).

God's hand is extended; have you taken it?

Alan is Content Coordinator for Lifestyles Over 50 (Thrive Media) and contributor to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also an adult Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology, and being a senior citizen!

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