All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5: 18, 19

 

It seems that everyone has had the experience of being in an awkward place with another person. I know that I have been there, and this is not a pleasant place to be. You are concerned about running into the other person and often do things to avoid those encounters. Some of these difficult relationships are never resolved. They stay strained and broken for the rest of time. This is where humanity is at as it relates to God. We exist with a relationship that is strained beyond breaking, and this is the nature of that interaction that we each receive as our birthright. The single greatest tension that every newly born person encounters is this one in which we engage in an internal battle between our separation and independence from God and our need for relationship with our Creator. This struggle finds its resolution in and through the presence of Christ in our lives. There is no other way or means for each of us to enjoy reconciliation with our God.

 

Now most of us, when we are distanced from another person, go to almost any length to avoid our antagonist, or at least we do this until the situation is right for us to engage with that other person. This is not the way that God operates. He boldly approaches each of us, and He lays out His desire for restoration and for deep and intimate engagement for us to plainly see. The Lord is unceasing in this pursuit of us, and He does not stop with it until we relent and turn to Him through Christ or our days on earth come to their end. There is absolutely no escaping or avoiding an encounter with God. We can accept the love and the grace that He desires to pour out upon us during this life, or we will face judgment for our rejection of it in the life to come. For those of us who have put aside our avoidance and surrendered ourselves to Christ, there comes a new freedom in this life and with that freedom there also arise new responsibilities.

 

We are free from the burden of prejudice and that of fear. We can journey through this world without the shield of protection that comes about as we set out our differences from others and hold onto human distinctives as our marks of superiority or authority. In Christ we are brought to a level of worth that is equal to all other people, and this is the highly elevated one of bearer of God’s image. As we have received mercy, grace, and the love that sets us free from sin and its death, we are also empowered and freed from the bondage of broken-world thinking that works to separate and to divide people from each other. By dwelling in Christ, our eyes should be opened to see the beauty and the God imbued value of every person on this earth. This eyes-of-Christ vision removes the worldly divisors of gender, race, societal status, and nationality from our consideration of whether we should seek out, defend and protect, or share the love of Christ with any individual or group of people. Our Lord’s directive to us is to be imitators of Christ. That means that we join with Him in holding out forgiveness and in granting grace to everyone. We are to become relentless workers for Christ who seek to demonstrate the truth of the Gospel to each person that we meet and who also promote that attitude in our homes, churches, and communities.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5: 18, 19

 

It is hard to not become engaged with stories of reconciliation. We hear about an incredible journey that a lost cat or dog has taken to find its way home, and we are filled with emotion. Accounts of children given for adoption and finding their birth mother as adults are powerful, and the times when estranged or even divorced married couples are brought back together carry a very special touch of God’s grace within their narratives. Perhaps the most striking tale of reconciliation comes about in Luke’s telling of the restoration of the relationship between son and father in what we know as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Yet, the Bible contains an even greater and more powerful story of separation, loss, and God’s work of reconciliation. Its entire narrative from beginning to the very end is one long accounting of God’s unending and successful pursuit of people.

 

In knowing Christ, people are brought back into a relationship with God that is our true natural state of existence. Living in intimacy with God is the way that humanity was designed and created to be. However, much like that impulsive puppy who runs off from the care and the safety of its owner while chasing a squirrel we have broken away from God through rebellion, and we have taken ourselves out of the peace and provision that in this world come only from the heart of God. Yet, Christ does not leave us there in the lost state of spiritual and physical separation from God. He reaches into our orphaned hearts and gives us the gift of a place within the eternal family of God’s children. Just as these stories about the reconciliation of human relationships come from every aspect of humanity. So too does Christ’s work of reconciliation apply to any and to all people in the world.

 

This story of reconciliation doesn’t stop with Christ’s bringing of people back into relationship with God. It continues on from there in a manner that is intended by God to be the true never-ending story of our age. Christ desires for each of us who know Him to go out into our world and think, speak, and live in a manner that continues this narrative of reconciliation. In Christ our lives are to be dedicated to the same purpose that God has set forth for Himself from that time long ago in distant history. We are to be people who bring the grace of heaven into a harsh and a violent world. Christ takes us along a path that leads out of comfort and personal safety and into the wilderness places where lost souls go to escape God’s view. Yet, this journey of faith with its discomforts and dangers is one that leads all who take it ever deeper into the heart of God.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5: 18, 19

 

There is something very special about reconciliation. The word tells a story about a relationship that was lost, broken, or abandoned and its restoration. It has that sort of patina on it that an old house demonstrates with all of its patched cracks, layers of paint, and the marks on its walls and floors that were caused by people who have lived there. Reconciliation brings with it history, and these stories are often ones that are filled with pain and suffering such that the participants may have generations of reasons for remaining estranged. When it comes to God’s side of the story of relationship with humanity, we have done as much as it is possible to do to shatter and to destroy the bond of friendship between us.

 

However, God is very different from us. He doesn’t seek to repay hurt with hurt, and He doesn’t hold onto our generations of injury and unjust behaviors. Instead He gave Himself totally so that we can choose to return to His loving embrace as sons and daughters. Being reconciled to God is still a choice that everyone gets to make. Far too many do not decide to return to their true Father, and they will face the judgment of a righteous and a just God. They also live apart from His council and protection for their hearts and minds in this life. God counts all of this separation as loss, and He is made sad by people’s rejection of Him.

 

So, God commissions each of us who have entered into the new life that comes to us through Christ to be people who follow His lead and carry reconciliation to others. This is something that comes about when we lay down our imperative of right and privilege so that we can enter into the lives of people who are estranged and distanced. God desires that His people would learn to care about the lost people of our world in the same way that He does so that their separation from the Father would make our hearts ache and desire to do anything that is needed to bring the truth of Christ to them. In order to do this followers of Christ need to repent of our fear and distrust and surrender our hearts to God’s love for all people so that we can offer others the hope of real and lasting peace that is found only in Christ.