If we’re talking about persons, our English word “reconcile” serves our purpose well when we wish to get the basic idea of the Greek words the NT uses to speak of reconciliation. We’re told it derives directly from the Latin through French with related senses such as “to bring together again” or “regain” or “to make friendly.” There’s nothing difficult about that.
Words aren’t the realities they speak of, of course—the realities are the “things” the words refer to.
What follows is too simple—life and reality are always more complex than our words but there’s little point in pretending we are completely in the dark. I don’t care that the piece is repetitive.
We look at two people (Helen and Harry) noting certain characteristic attitudes, behavioral and verbal patterns we call them “friends”. If they are clearly “hostile” to each other that will show in characteristic patterns of behavior we won’t call them “friends”.
If at one point they were indeed “friends” and something happened that led to a radical and sustained change in Harry’s’ view of Helen that changed his behavior toward her the “friendship” has been destroyed. If Helen maintains the attitude and expressions of a “friend” and Harry insists on being hostile and completely indifferent to Helen’s approach we rightly say they aren’t “friends” despite Helen’s desire for friendship and her attempts to overcome the current alienation. We rightly say that Helen offers friendship and Harry refuses it.
Helen purposes to and works at destroying the alienation. The means and methods by which she goes about this can only express her own heart toward Harry and they must have an effect on Harry’s heart if friendship is to be regained. Helen’s heart in this matter needs no change but Harry’s does. Once more, if Harry rejects all Helen’s various approaches there is and can be no reconciliation.
Helen knows that she has done nothing that warrants Harry’s hostility. Repeat: Helen knows this and holds it to be true, nevertheless she wants reconciliation.
Harry’s wrong does not change Helen but her desire for reconciliation is not reconciliation—the desire for alienation lies totally in Harry even though it affects Helen—she experiences the loss.
She is not sulking, she is not unwilling to be friends. That she is being wronged is true but that doesn’t alter her heart’s desire. There is nothing within her that is an obstacle to restore friendship—the alienation has been generated by and remains in place because Harry wills it to be that way.
There are some who think that Helen cannot be reconciled to Harry because her honor has been offended.
It is true that Harry has despised her and if there is to be reconciliation and a return to friendship that will have to be acknowledged. Regret would exist, of course, but a commitment to be a friend must also be in place.
But, and this is an important but, whether Harry moves that way or not, Helen’s heart’s desire remains unchanged; though dishonored she wants Harry back. Her “honor” is not the fundamental drive in Helen. She cannot and will not deny that she has been dishonored but she will not let that truth be the final truth.
She will not say, “I have been dishonored therefore I want nothing more to do with Harry.” The reality is, she wants very much to have something to do with Harry who is even now dishonoring her!
Harry must change! But all change must be from Harry’s side!
Helen’s sense of her honorable personhood is well grounded but it’s no obstacle within her that generated or maintains the alienation. She knows she is honorable and still wants Harry back. The truth is that Harry has said “no” to Helen and not to some one thing about Helen and it’s not the honor of Helen that requires appeasement. Helen’s honor doesn’t exist in isolation—it’s Helen that has been dishonored and it is Helen (not parts of her) that wants Harry back as a friend!
Someone could say, “They can’t be friends because Harry has offended Helen’s honor and her honor needs to be appeased or she cannot move to bring about friendship.” We’d probably think that a strange way to speak. We’d probably think that Helen needs to be appeased (if she needed to be appeased) rather than an isolated part of her.
In any case, someone might respond, “I don’t think that’s true. I saw her come to him and humble herself in his presence again and again and again and I know she keeps on doing it. Her honor can’t mean that much to her in this matter. If there’s a conflict between her honor and her love for Harry her love has overcome her sense of her honor. But I don’t think there is a conflict in her heart and mind. I think her honor is part of why she maintains her commitment to him as a friend even though he will not have it.”
There were some who said much about Harry breaking the “law of friendship” and said the law must be satisfied if there is to be restored friendship. Helen thought it interesting that “the law” of friendship entered the discussion. She even thought it interesting that the word “satisfied/satisfaction” entered the discussion.
She thought that it was a person that had been horribly mistreated and not a law. She thought that what she had with Harry was not a legal agreement based on some law but a personal relationship between a friend and a friend.
Helen thought there was no law against truly and honorably loving someone and so it could not be a law that stood between her and Harry.
She didn’t feel there was some “law” outside herself and her heart’s desire that got in the way of having a restored friendship with dishonorable Harry. She wanted him back. Did the fact that he lied about her keep her from wanting him back? Did the fact that he coldly ignored her or openly sneered at her on every occasion they met keep her from wanting him back? Was there some “law” out there beyond her own heart and mind, some law-giver, that she had to submit to before she could have restored friendship with Harry?
She didn’t know of one! The reason she wanted to have Harry back was because she wanted Harry back.
So why weren’t they friends again?
Because Harry didn’t want to be friends!
Why does Helen continue to love Harry this way?
Some say her kind of love leaves her no choice.
She might make an effort so astonishing that many would be mesmerized by it; something so wonderful and selfless they they couldn’t believe it for joy.
And though they have seen so many wondrous examples of such love the love of Helen seems even more remarkable and it affects all who come to know if it.
(Holy Father, help us to know You and honor you for who and what You. are. This fervent prayer in Jesus name.)