Many people operate daily under a “to do” list. That is, as they consider the day before them, they list the things that they want to accomplish. Likewise, sometimes the “to do” list is prioritized based on what needs to be done first. Somethings are more important than others and need to be taken care of as soon as possible. Other things can wait even if for another day. The important thing is to do the first things first.
For most church’s worship, there is a typical order of worship that the congregation follows. Each church may be different from one another, yet each church often has its own “to do” list when it comes to worship. The “to-do” list may include singing, prayer, reading scripture, litanies, special music, a sermon, communion, and the like. Hence, the congregation usually develops an order of worship. What will worship begin with and how will it end?
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Gospel, Jesus teaches about doing first things first when it comes to worship. In Matthew 5: 23-24 Jesus says, “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” According to Jesus, as we enter to worship the first thing, we should do is seek to reconcile with those whom we have had discord, division, and disagreement with. If there is something broken in a relationship, then we should seek to make it right before we offer our worship to God. Hence, as followers of Jesus, reconciliation should always come first.
In Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes about how we have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. In Jesus, our broken relationship with God is healed and made whole. In Jesus, we are reunited with God in a new way. As a result of our reconciliation with God, we must now become reconcilers ourselves. Paul writes, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18) As Christians, the ministry of reconciliation should always be at the top of our “to do” list for the day. Every day allows us to mend fences, tear down walls that separate, and forgive one another. For when we bring unforgiveness with us to worship it will always impede our worship. That’s why Jesus told us to leave our gift at the altar and go and make right that which is wrong.
So, whatever our “to do” list may be for today, let us not forget that God has called us to a ministry of reconciliation. This should always be the first task of the day. Reconciliation must be the first thing in our order of worship but also the order of our lives.