(NOTE: Below is a guest entry by Matthew Kruse, pastor of 7 Mile Road Boston. The following is an article that has been submitted to The Malden Observer, a local city paper. I loved it and asked him if I could post it for you all to enjoy. So enjoy.)

My dad and I are really different guys.

He subscribes to Verizon FiOS and its 999 channels. I get PBS, fuzzy, through an antenna. He sports a thick, white, Papa Smurf beard. I grow a mere soul patch and can’t stand the itch. He is at home under the hood of a ‘57 Chevy. I can change a flat tire, I think. He’s pretty sure that salvation is like the Orange Line: the heavenly doors are open, you just have to decide to get on. I am a little more Reformed: unless God changes your heart, you’ll never want to board that train.

Every time we eat out together, I am reminded of our differences. Penny-pincher that I am, I adamantly refuse to pay $2 for a soft drink that costs 11 cents, free refills be damned. Dad, on the other hand, not only orders a drink, but bypasses regular soda in favor of the bottled and expensive kind, like Mr. Jones Cream or Virgil’s Black Cherry. I am told it is a New York thing, and that I just don’t understand.

Because of our differences, I never knew if my dad and I would have a strong friendship when I grew up. Then, when I was 20, our family went through one of those dark seasons that emerge unexpectedly and tend to leave deep wounds. Dad did some irrational things to hurt mom, and the fallout reached us all. I figured this whole thing was the final nail-in-the-coffin for any hope of us being close friends.

I was so wrong.

In a stunning (but typical) display of God’s undeserved grace, God brought my dad to repentance and my parents were beautifully reconciled. A few months later while I was in prayer, I sensed God asking me if I had forgiven my dad. The honest answer was yes. After all, if God was so willing to extend grace, who was I to refuse?

I was, however, unprepared for the follow up question: “Does he know?”

Being unsure, I ran down stairs and found my dad in the kitchen and simply said, “Dad. I do forgive you.”

In the conversation (and many more) that ensued, our souls were knit together in a way that I didn’t think would be possible. Our friendship has grown way beyond my wildest dreams. We talk, argue, laugh and play stoop ball with my four kids. We plan for the future and reminisce about the past, together. I even get to pastor my dad. We are two very different guys with every excuse to be estranged, but who now stand reconciled as friends.

This is one of the many glorious realities made possible because of the Gospel. The work accomplished for us by Christ on the cross is not only the basis for the forgiveness of my dad’s (and my) many sins, but it is the only basis for true reconciliation. The eternal, Trinitarian God loves sacrificially, and so, too, can we. Where there should be strife, the Gospel brings peace. Where bitterness should fester, love overflows. Where differences should alienate, grace unites. Where dads and sons should be at odds, friendship endures.

A few weeks ago I was in a Manhattan diner sharing a meal with some pastor friends. When the waiter asked me if I wanted a drink, my answer was easy:

“Black cherry. In a bottle.”

7 Mile Road Church