Maybe you can relate to the scenario of fighting with a loved one or having a disagreement with a co-worker about a particular matter to an extent that it damages and breaks the relationship. When there is an offense between two people in a relationship, and it is hindered due to that offense, then reconciliation is needed to bring restoration and healing to that relationship. We sin against God and we sin against people and reconciliation is needed in both cases, and, theologically speaking, those two areas in need of reconciliation are related to each other.
DEFINITION OF RECONCILIATION
What does “reconciliation” mean?
“The meaning common to this word group is ‘change’ or ‘exchange.’ Reconciliation involves a change in the relationship between God and man or man and man. It assumes there has been a breakdown in the relationship, but now there has been a change from a state of enmity and fragmentation to one of harmony and fellowship” (Source).
If a relationship is broken due to sin, then the relationship must “change” from being broken to being healed. The relationship, which was once whole, is now fragmented, and restoration is needed.
THE BASIS OF RECONCILIATION
“18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 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. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
THE BASIS OF RECONCILIATION WITH OTHERS IS RECONCILIATION WITH GOD
How does one seek reconciliation with God? Before we even ask the question as to how we seek reconciliation with God, we must first realize that we are not reconciled with God and that there is a break in our relationship with Him. At the very heart of the Christian message is that we, as a human race, have sinned against God (anger, murder, lust, coveting, idolatry, adultery, etc., ad infinitum) and that it is eternally pertinent that we are reconciled with God. How is it, then, that reconciliation with God is actualized? This is where Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross becomes relevant and beautiful to sinners such as ourselves. The basis of our reconciliation with God is not based on our good deeds, but on Christ’s deed done on the cross, namely, His sacrifice and bearing the wrath of God in our place. Wrath was due to us because of our part in breaking the relationship with God due to sin, but God, in mercy, brought wrath (see propitiation) upon His Son instead of upon us. God is good and gracious to do this for us, undeserving as we are. However, there is no reconciliation until we have applied Christ’s sacrifice to our lives, and this is done through trust in His work on the cross instead of trust in our own goodness and religious deeds. In this way, God’s wrath is appeased and we are thus reconciled to God.
RECONCILIATION WITH OTHERS
How is that we can be reconciled with others? It seems to me that this reconciliation with other is based upon verse 18 above, which says, “…[God] gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” What does it mean that God has given us “the ministry of reconciliation”? It means that reconciliation is to define the life and message of the Christian. We preach not only reconciliation to God to sinners, but we also preach and live reconciliation with others as well. To not be reconciled with brothers and sisters in Christ, especially, or to anyone, speaks poorly of our knowledge of our own reconciliation to God. Our reconciliation with others exemplifies and displays God’s reconciliation to us, in Christ, as sinners. To refuse to be reconciled to brothers and sisters in Christ is to either, at best, refuse to remember and apply God’s reconciliation to us in Christ to our specific situation, or it is to, at worst, refuse God’s reconciliation to us in Christ altogether. We are walking pictures of God’s forgiveness in Christ when we can walk in forgiveness with one another. To the extent that we extend love and forgiveness to others that have offended us is the extent that we visually show that we understand God’s love and forgiveness extended to ourselves. It’s too easy to forget our own sin against God when others sin against us, but we must, instead, keep our own sins, and the cross, before us at all times and we must “preach the gospel to ourselves every day” in order to be reminded that we are undeserving of God’s forgiveness and reconciliation, therefore, we should forgive and reconcile as well.
“If a man has injured me, I must forgive him; and if I find him to be faulty, I must love him till he gets better, and if I cannot make him better by ordinary love, I must love him more, even as Christ loved His church and gave Himself for it, ‘that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.’ He did not love her because she was without spot or wrinkle, but to get spots and wrinkles out of her; He loved her into holiness” (Charles Spurgeon, “The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit” pg. 694, Billy added bold & italics for emphasis).
I’d love to hear your comments below in the “Comments” section!
- What are your thoughts on “reconciliation”?
- Reflect: Who do you need to be reconciled to today, and how does your reconciliation in Christ help you to love and forgive others that have offended you?