Reconcile with Others Before You Worship God
25 September 2016
2 Samuel 24:18-25
I went to three different seminaries in the United States. I met many professors and students in those seminaries. I still remember when I first attended a chapel in a seminary. I saw Americans, Latinos, Europeans, Africans and Asians in the chapel room. I realized that it was an international group. I loved meeting students who had come from other countries. I met a couple of Indonesian students in that seminary and spoke with them in Indonesian because I had gone to Indonesia as a missionary and could speak Indonesian. I thought that God really accepted the worship service because the students who had come from other countries united in Jesus Christ and worshipped him with one spirit.
Our congregation is an international group. Some members speak Samoan. Some speak Tongan. Some speak Marshall. Some speak Tagalog. Some speak Japanese and some speak Korean. During our aloha reception, I find them to speak their own languages. I believe that God gladly accepts our worship because we all worship him in unity.
God wants us to unite in Jesus Christ beyond the difference of race, culture and language. He wants to worship him by accepting and loving each other.
Today's scripture tells us about this. Today's sermon is the continuation of the sermon of last Sunday's worship service. When David took a census, God was mad at him. He punished him by sending a plague upon the Israelites. Due to the plague, 70,000 people died. David immediately repented of his sin to God. God received his repentance. God gave a solution to resolve the situation. The solution was that David had to offer a worship to Him. The solution was that David had to build an altar to God on the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite.
David was told to go to Araunah's place. Araunah was a man of the Jebusite. Jebusite was a gentile tribe. David actually didn't like the people of Jebusite tribe. There was a reason. David had to run away when Absalom incited a revolution. When David and his army attacked Jerusalem to recapture the city, the people of Jebusite tribe made fun of him. 2 Samuel 5:6 says, "The Jebusites said to David, "You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off." They actually said that David's army was very weak so even the bland and the lame could beat his army. When David heard it, he was mad at the people of the Jebusite tribe. He must have had negative feelings toward them.
When God ordered him to go to Araunah's place, he probably complained about it to God by saying these words. "God, there are a lot of threshing floors in Jerusalem. But why do you order me to go to a place of a man of Jebusite tribe?" There was God's will. God wanted David to first reconcile with the people of Jubusite tribe before David worshipped him.
Jesus said the similar words in Matthew 5:24; "First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." Through this verse, Jesus says that we should first reconcile with others before we worship God. He says that we should first remove the hatred and anger in our hearts toward others before we worship God.
Here is an example. You have come to church to worship God. When you entered the sanctuary and sit on the place where you usually sit during the worship service, you find a person who you are uncomfortable around sitting in front of you or behind you. During the worship service, you still feel uncomfortable and you can't focus on the worship service. You feel like that person ruins your worship to God. However, God wants you to remove that ill feeling from your heart. If you have an ill feeling toward someone, ask God to remove that feeling from your heart. You need to train yourself to accept others with Jesus' love.
Neeisima Jo studied in the United States. His English name was Joseph Hardy Neesima. When he finished his studies, he went back to Japan. He served his homeland people as a missionary. He was also an educator and founded Doshisha University. It was a Christian school. At one time, a conflict occurred between the faculty and students. Students often demonstrated against the faculty. There was a chapel in school every day during the week. Even though the faculty and students worshipped God in the same place, they were still hostile toward each other. One day, the president Neeisima called a meeting for the faculty and all students. In the meeting, he said that he would punish the person who first occurred the conflict between the faculty and students. He said that he was the one who caused that conflict. After he finished his words, he suddenly rolled up his sleeve and began to hit his arm hard with a stick. He constantly hit his arm and it began to bleed. When the faculty and students saw it, they were shocked. Some of them came up to the stage and stopped him from hitting his own arm. Some of them came and knelt down before him. They began to cry and asked him for forgiveness. After this incident, the conflict was resolved. The faculty and students reconciled with each other and united in Jesus Christ.
God has called us to this church as worshippers. He wants us to worship him by accepting one another and reconciling with others.
Let us read verse 21 altogether. "I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped." Here we come to know that when David worshipped God, he had a heart of loving and taking care of the Israelites
When he offered worship to God, he didn't ask God for blessings for himself but he asked God for healing for the Israelites. Many people these days are self-centered. They don't want to take care of others. I am glad that our church members are willing to take care of others. We worship God with all generations. In our worship, we have babies, children, youth kids, young adults, adults, and senior members. I am thankful that our senior members take care of our children and youth kids during the worship service. They give an opportunity to them to play and sing songs before God during the worship service. You have a heart of taking care of others in the worship service.
Solomon offered 1,000 worships to God. After he finished offering those worships, God told him to give things that he would ask for. Then he asked God to give him the wisdom so that he could know what was right and what was wrong. He asked God for wisdom because he wanted to serve the Israelites justly and equitably. He didn't ask God for money, a military power, or a healthy body, but wisdom for the Israelites. When he worshipped God, he always thought about the Israelites. He always took care of others. God was moved by him. God gave him heavenly wisdom. Solomon truly loved the Israelites. Where did he learn this? Who taught him this? He learned this from his father David.
David offered worship to God on the threshing floor of Araunah. Verse 25 says that after the worship, the plague stopped. God accepted David's worship at Araunah's place. When David worshipped God by reconciling with the people of Jebusite tribe and taking care of the Israelites, God allowed the Israelites to experience healing and restoration. Worship brings restoration in our lives. When we worship God by reconciling with others and taking care of them, God allows us to experience healing and restoration in our lives.
About 40 years ago, a Korean woman experienced this phenomenon in S. Korea. One day, she went to a hospital for a checkup because of her upset stomach. One week later, she called the hospital and her doctor said on the phone that she had terminal cancer and needed to receive another checkup. When she heard the news, she was frustrated. She was still young and didn't want to die young. She complained about the disease to God. For the first week, she couldn't do anything but stayed in her room all day long. Even though her doctor asked her to come for another checkup, she didn't go to the hospital. She felt more pain in her stomach and she felt like her condition was getting worse. Starting from the second week, she began to accept her disease and the situation. She decided to accept her destiny to die young. There was one thing that she wanted to do before she died. She wanted to reconcile with a woman with whom she didn't get along. She called her and first apologized to the woman even though she had not done anything wrong to that woman. She reconciled with that woman. After she had a conversation with that woman, she felt peace in her heart and she didn't feel any pain in her stomach. As time went on, she felt like her stomach was getting better. Two weeks later, she went to see her doctor for another checkup. When the doctor saw her medical chart, the doctor was shocked. When the doctor talked with her on the phone two weeks ago, he saw someone's medical chart, not her own chart. She didn't have cancer but minor gastritis. The doctor made a huge mistake. That mistake happened because there was no computer 40 years ago. The doctor constantly apologized to her. She was not mad at the doctor. She began to shed tears in front of him. She rather thanked the doctor because she realized the true meaning of life. She also learned how to accept and love others.
God has called us as worshippers. He wants us to reconcile with others and accept with Jesus' love in our worship. When we worship Him by reconciling with others and taking care of them with Jesus' love, He will allow us to experience healing and restoration in our lives.
Rev. Dr. David Choi
Last modified 11 October 2016.