2 Corinthians 5:18-20. 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.
Reconciliation. It’s one of the most beautiful realities of the Gospel. We have peace with God. Age old enemies can become friends. And because of our peace with God, we can have peace with each other too. One day will live in perfect harmony with one another. And Paul is reminding the Corinthians (and us) that, in Christ, that day is here – today.
But Paul is also reminding the Corinthians (and us) that all true and lasting reconciliation must begin and end with Christ. And therefore, it must begin and end with Christ’s cross.
And so here is the reality of reconciliation – we can only be reconciled through struggle. It was only through the cross that real and ultimate reconciliation could take place. There is no cheap or easy reconciliation. Reconciliation is a fight. It can only come by way of the crucified life. If you are going to fight for reconciliation, you have to be prepared to give up your life for it.
How is this possible? Because Christ has given up his life for you in order to reconcile you to God. We passively receive God’s reconciliation by grace – in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself. But then we actively embrace the ministry of reconciliation.
The life of Christ in us has given us our new meaning and purpose. We are reconcilers. Christ in us allows us to participate in this great redemptive work of God. This is what it means to image him, to represent him to the world. This is what Paul is describing for us in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. We are ambassadors for Christ. We carry the message of God. The message of reconciliation.
Reconciliation is the manifestation of living the crucified life. Reaching beyond ourselves to others. Moving out of our comfort zones and opening our hearts to others. Leaving our fortresses of self-affirmation and entering courageously into our polarized world with open hearts and open minds.
We live in world that is slowly dying from the disease of hate. We live in a divided culture where accusations and arguments dominate our news feed. We are always looking for a way to promote the self by promoting our differences – racial, political, religious, sexual. But the life of a messenger of reconciliation is a life of doing the hard work of graciously listening to the hurts of others, while at the same time revealing to them their need for God’s grace.
What Christ and his cross wants us to know is that there can never be true reconciliation without owning up to what was done wrong. If a husband insults his wife but then later that night washes the dishes, are they reconciled? If a parent screams at her child, but then later buys them ice cream, are they reconciled? If one group of people enslaves another but then later provides increased “opportunity” without any acknowledgement of the past, are they reconciled? You know the answer.
This is why reconciliation with God and the ministry of reconciliation is such a struggle. Because it is not just everyone playing nice. It is an acknowledgment of a deep hurt. The hurt we have caused God. But also, for many, it is acknowledging the feeling of being hurt by God. This too must be worked through with great care and patience and grace. As the messenger, your lifestyle of love and acceptance will image the love and acceptance of God and maybe even begin to heal those wounds.
“To live is Christ” is to be reconciled to God by his justifying work. But beyond this, it is to spread the message of reconciliation that flows from God through each of us united to Christ. It is a hard work, the work of the cross, the work of dying to self as both the messenger and the one receiving the message.
Where in your life can you see the need for reconciliation?
You in Christ
Have you been reconciled to God? If yes – how do you know?
Christ in you
Where do you need to be an ambassador for Christ today? Do you tend to push for an “easy peace” without doing the hard work of helping both sides to recognize their true offenses?
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