Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Ministry of Reconciliation

"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:18

To anyone who has been estranged for a time from someone dear to him or her, the word “reconciliation” holds a special meaning. It assumes two things. First, there was some kind of relationship previously; and two, something happened to sever that relationship.

In the case of this verse in 2 Corinthians, all mankind, because of Adam's transgression, are estranged from God at birth. Our inborn predisposition to sin only proves this. We are alienated first by birth and then by choice; and as the verse says, we are only able to patch things up with God because He was willing to “[reconcile] us to himself by Jesus Christ." It was God who was the offended Party, yet it was He who affected the reconciliation by offering His own Son as a payment for our sins. We, on the other hand, have merely to acknowledge the estrangement, confess to the blame, and accept the terms of reconcilation. It was God Who assumed the bulk of the responsibility, and who sustained the brunt of the consequences. You couldn't ask for a better deal.

I understand from the same verse in 2 Corinthians (as well as verse 19) that we as believers have been commissioned to do the same for the lost and dying world among whom we live and work. In Paul’s words, “(God) hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” In other words, the Church should not be training “soul-winners,” as such, but rather, “reconcilers.” We must do our best to make those with whom we come in contact understand that they have offended Almighty God; and if they too will acknowledge their sin and accept the gift of God's Son as the only means of reconciliation, we can offer them the same deal we got. In effect, say to them, “[W]e pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (v.20).

But we should not leave it there. There are times when brothers and sisters in the family of God are in need of reconciliation one to another (Matt.5:24), and when family ties are broken for one reason or another (1 Cor.7:11). At such times, would this not call for the services of a "minister of reconciliation," as well? Is it not such people that our Lord is commending when He says, “Blessed are the peacemakers”?

In some cases, it is we ourselves who have been offended, as God was. What was His response? Or perhaps it is a brother or sister (physical or spiritual) who is estranged from someone else in the family (or Family). In either case, reconciliation is needed, at least to the extent that the parties themselves, and the Holy Spirit, will allow. Instead of fanning the flames of dissension (as is often the case), we should pour in oil and wine and try to bind up the wounds (Luke 10:34).

Many of us look for some ministry in the Body of Christ. Might I suggest the "ministry of reconciliation?" Oh, it's not a very showy one; in fact, it's more of a behind the scenes kind of mission. You probably will not be recognized from the pulpit or commended by the crowd, but you will have the sweet assurance that you are participating in a high and holy calling, one in which God Himself participates.

Will you take the challenge? Will you surrender to the ministry...the ministry of reconciliation?

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