The more I mature as a Christian (I’m not saying I am a mature Christian, just that I have become more mature than I was in previous years as I grow in the Christian worldview and in the person of Christ) the more and more Easter is my favorite holiday. The entirety of the Christian message hinges on the truth of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead by God the Father. While many, including myself, often take this time to think about His life, death and resurrection focusing on apologetic issues regarding a defense of the resurrection on historical grounds, on the horrible suffering Christ endured on our behalf, etc. (which are all fantastic topics that I myself am very much into) I want to in this particular article focus on a single aspect (of many!) of the Passion events, namely reconciliation.
My personal reading of the Bible as of late has lead me to be in the book of 2 Corinthians. The following portion of text has really had me reflecting on its words and how that relates to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Here is the section I have been working through:
“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
What Is Reconciliation?
As I read through the passage I wanted to understand what the Greek word translated as “reconciled” really meant. There really is no special or hidden meaning, but it certainly highlights the importance of what Jesus did for us that is encapsulated in His death, burial and resurrection. The word means to restore relationship or fellowship that has been broken. Hence the image I made for the article above, as reconciliation takes us from enemies to friends.
Have you ever had a situation where you were in an important relationship (not a romantic one per se) such as a mother to daughter, father to son, friend to friend, etc. where it ended up going very sour, even to the point where all contact was broken off? Have you also had a relationship like that be completely restored and brought back to life only to be better than ever before? What Paul is describing here is our broken fellowship/relationship with our loving heavenly Father. Our sin/rebellion against God and His instructions to us is what strains the relationship and making us estranged from God. God offers a remedy for this through His Son per verse 19 above.
The Message of Reconciliation
Paul in his address here to the church at Corinth mentions the message of reconciliation as being committed to him and his associates. This message is also committed to us in that we are to give the good news of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to those who have not committed their lives to Christ as Lord. As Christians, have you ever thought of the Gospel message in this way, namely as a message of reconciliation? This to me has great impact on the responsibility we have to convey the message properly, as well as presenting it as lovingly, as possible. The reconciliation is achieved on God’s part through Christ as we learn in verse 19 above. Christ’s death, burial and resurrection secures this reconciliation, it is only left that we trust in Him to apply it/credit it to our account. This is why Paul even entreats us to “be reconciled to God” in verse 20. Remember that is sin/rebellion toward God (not keeping His commandments/instructions to us) that creates this need for reconciliation. God’s wrath is ever remaining/abiding on those who do not trust in Christ because of their crimes committed against a holy God.
“The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)
God did provide a way out of our sentencing for crimes that we are guilty of committing and a way of reconciliation, again this being the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Only then can we become his sons and daughters and have this restored relationship with Him.
“But when the completion of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)
When we teach that Christ is risen, would it not be more effective when giving the message to think of it as a reconciliation message? I think so, studying this aspect of it has really helped me to think of it in a new light, and with renewed eagerness to dispense the message knowing that I am playing a small part in helping someone be reconciled to God by just being used as a vessel whereby God draws people to Himself through the work and person of the Holy Spirit! I pray it helps you as it has helped me!
The Ministry of Reconciliation
Paul also speaks of reconciliation as a ministry/service to others that is commissioned to him and his companions. As hinted at above, when we give the message of reconciliation do we think of it as being a ministry of reconciliation? What better service can we engage in than one that helps restore right relationships, not just to fellow human beings, but to help human beings be restored into right relationship to God Himself! I have found in my experience that understanding the message and being able to show it is true (hence the major importance of being able to defend the truth claims of the Christian worldview) helps us to be of service in dispensing it to others, especially for the purposes of reconciliation.
This fallen world is suffused with broken, shattered relationships. I think that reflection on the ministerial aspect of reconciliation is a very important aspect of Christian living that can go a long way to help reverse broken relationships. Paul thought of this ministry of reconciliation as a king sending ambassadors to a foreign country (verse 20 above) to deliver the king’s message of reconciliation. Have you ever thought of the importance and responsibility that goes along with such a serious task? It is not to be taken lightly! This is however the role of everyone who professes Jesus as Lord, and I pray that we take our role as ambassadors more seriously by learning all we can about the message, remembering who we are representing and presenting it in as loving a manner as we can to others in the hope that they too will be reconciled to God! Remembering as well that it was all made possible by God, through Jesus Christ…
He is risen!!!