Intro to Week 3 (Reconciliation): Day Twelve (January 15)

684 436 Bridge Church NYC

 

Only a grace as yours

would welcome me

into your holy presence

broken I bow before your throne

my need is great but still your grace is greater

  • Run 51, Grace Is Greater

From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-20)

When we look at our world, it’s often characterized by broken relationships. Half of marriages end in divorce. Many of us avoid family gatherings because of the drama that we anticipate will ensue. At our jobs, office politics and petty disputes cause conflict and motivate us to refresh the resume and go somewhere else. Divisions among political factions and ideologies turn social media posts into contentious forums where taunts and insults are launched back and forth with increasing hostility. Our relationships with neighbors, families, friends, and fellow commuters often reveal that the world is indeed very broken, and in need of reconciliation. Peacemakers are needed now more than ever.

Unfortunately, we are often encouraged to respond to conflict in ways the Apostle Paul referred to as “a worldly perspective” in 2 Corinthians 5:16. The “worldly perspective” has no interest in reconciliation; just revenge and retaliation. This attitude places self-interest above all else and looks with suspicion and disdain upon anyone who threatens it—even Christ. From a worldly perspective, the habit of reconciliation makes no sense. Reconciliation, however, is the core theme of the Bible story and our personal lives. As we explored in Week 1, God created perfect relationships, but they became broken All of our relationships are in need of restoration—our relationship with God, and each other..

The Core Theme

God’s mission to repair our broken relationships is core theme—a thread that is woven throughout the tapestry of the Bible. When His initial ambassadors Adam and Eve rebelled in the Garden, He pursued and even promised redemption. In Exodus story, God repeatedly gave Pharaoh opportunities to change course, and let his people go so that He could repair the unjust relationship he had created with them. God chose the Israelites to be His ambassadors, but immediately after God miraculously freed them from bondage, more restoration was needed. The Israelites continued to fracture their relationship with the Lord God through their actions. But even then, God continued to pursue. This thread persists with King Saul, King David, King Solomon, and throughout the Old Testament. King David broke God’s law by committing adultery, murder and deception, and God still forgave him. It’s no wonder that David marveled:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,

    whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,

             and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalms 32:1-2)

What does God’s commitment to reconciliation look like? Compassion, grace, forgiveness, and of course, patience. God’s response to broken relationship exemplifies how we ought to respond:

Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18)

Reconciliation is the habit of repairing and restoring relationships with God and with others. It is doing the compassionate and gracious work of peacemaking in a peace-breaking world. Because this thread runs so deep through the Scriptures, we have a clear sense of what is required to restore relationships. It’s not complicated, but it can be difficult. Christ, who achieved the reconciliation of all things with him, shows us how to heal and repair our relationships.

That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

If we want to see what it looks like to reconcile, we must emulate Jesus, who accomplished the ultimate: “reconciling the world to himself.”

Jesus:

1) Embraced God’s vision for reconciliation.

2) Sacrificially reached out to those who rejected him.

3) Forgave those who harmed him.

4) Invited those who had been his enemies to join him in his work.

Even after making an initial commitment to follow Christ, we must continue the habit of reconciling with God and each other.

Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. ( 2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Paul writes that “God was reconciling the world to himself”, which reflects the reality that even after we commit our lives to Christ, He is still at work reconciling us to Himself. Tied very closely to God’s work of reconciling is the ministry of reconciliation He has given us. This ministry has immediate implications for our relations with others. If God is not “counting their trespasses against them,” then neither should we. In the same way that He reconciled Himself to us, we are to reconcile with one another. And in the same way He shared this good news to us (who were the ones who sinned against Him), we are to share it with others (especially those who sinned against us).

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us.

We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

We are to be ambassadors who announce that peace with God is possible through Christ.

How can we play such a role if we are giving those who have offended us the silent treatment? How can we offer God’s forgiveness to them if we want them to suffer the consequences of their sin?

The only way to be Christ’s ambassadors, saying “Be reconciled to God,” is if we are also willing to say “Be reconciled to me.” Anything else isn’t good news, and it’s not the work God put us here to do.

  1. Where do you see the need for reconciliation among your relationships?
  2. In what ways have you experienced being reconciled with God?
  3. Which of the following do you need to focus on today to accomplish God’s mission of reconciliation?
  • Embrace God’s vision for reconciliation,
  • Sacrifice by moving toward the people that were the guilty,
  • Forgive those who had harmed Him, and then
  • Invite them to join in His work.
  1. What are the effects if we try to reconcile people to God, while not being reconciled to others?

Suggested Meditation: Mercy Said No, Cece Winans

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