Having recently completed sanding and refinishing my hardwood floors, I learned a number of little tricks that were important to making sure I did everything right. One thing that I spent a great deal of time on had very little to do with the floors specifically. They were the steps I took to minimize the spread of dust throughout the house. I had to hang plastic in doorways, to tape coverings over all of the heat vents and cold air returns, to stuff towels under doors – all in the name of clean air. When the sanding was finished, the room looked good, but the air was thick with sawdust. It was stuck to the walls, the ceiling, the windows, the plastic and especially on me. In spite of my best efforts to reduce it, the entire house was filled with dust.
Before anything could continue, I had to clean everything. Thankfully, the tape on the vents kept the dust out of the heating system, but it pretty much penetrated all of my other defenses. So began the systematic process of cleaning the house from top to bottom. It was time consuming, difficult, and a frustrating delay in getting to the finish line – but removing the dust, clearing the air, was totally necessary to make sure that the end result would be the best it could be.
It’s not often that we hear the phrase “clearing the air” in a work sense. The cliché is more prominently used in conversation. Figuratively, clearing the air means to eliminate the problems that exist between two people to gain understanding and to return back to the relationship that had previously existed before the offending incident. Like removing the dust, it is time consuming, difficult, and frustrating. It would be so much easier to ignore the dust, to just go on and hope for the best. Many people do that very thing – ignoring issues and avoiding arguments in an attempt to keep the peace or in the hopes that the situation will just work itself out by going away. Of course, experience will tell you that this simply is not the case. Problems don’t evaporate over time. Instead, they behave just like the sawdust in my house; they linger, filling the atmosphere until finally they permeate everything within their reach. If it isn’t ever dealt with, they grow, making it more difficult to resolve or restore. Finally, enough filth collects that the things they have covered are now unsalvageable. It would have been a shame to throw away a chair, or a photograph on the wall because I didn’t clean them effectively. How much more devastating would it be to throw away a person or a relationship for failing to clear the air?
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 sets us straight on how we ought to respond to one another when it comes to clearing the air. Paul writes, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God cleared the air between you and I that had been previously been polluted by our sin. The clouds have been lifted and God is worshiped, praised, and glorified. And once the dust and the dirt is removed, then the finishing touches can be added – maximizing our lives for service in the kingdom of the Lord. We have been called to reconcile not only our lives to God, but also with one another. So take the time and make the effort to reconcile with one another. Find solace in the power of the Lord in our lives, because through Him, we are tremendously well-equipped to restore every relationship that sin has broken.