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. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Day 4 - A Ministry of Reconciliation
Within the realm of Greco-Roman society the idea of reconciliation was found to be the work of the one who caused offense. If one was offended then it became the responsibility of the person who caused the breach in relationship to work towards its restoration. This notion of reconciliation was entirely inverted in the cross as the one who was offended, God, took the first and culminating step towards repairing the present disconnect between himself and humanity.
Whenever Paul spoke of reconciliation he did so recognizing that God was always its active agent and man the recipient of this loving action. Still, in the goodness and grace of God's mercy, he entrusted the ministry and message of reconciliation to those whom he had already restored to himself. The recipients of God's love thus become his instruments of goodness to humanity.
The transgressions and missteps of fallen men and women are no longer held in the heart of God to be counted against them. In Christ, God initiated and expressed his love and his desire to share once more the unobstructed union of knowing him and being known by him. In this way friendship with God was being restored and the proclamation of that truth has been gifted to those who now enjoy it.
This fullness of this restoration is found in the trusting commitment of its proclamation to the world through the church. The nature of this reconciliation is not solely in the private realm of the heart, but belongs as well to the public square. In the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus this message was first proclaimed and manifest to the world. Now it cries out from the hearts of those who once more belong to God in Christ.
This section hits home hard for me. I find it easy to close my heart off to those who have hurt me and even more difficult to face the reality that I have hurt others and that my attitudes and actions have directly and indirectly led to division and disunity. There are conflicts in my past where I have hidden behind the letter of the law, and fallen short of the spirit of law that calls me to follow Jesus to the cross. Jesus is teaching and helping me to keep my heart open and pursue those who have brought me deep pain and to never lose hope that God can heal and restore in even the most hopeless situation.
Ask God to show you a broken relationship in your life that He desires to bring healing and restoration to. Begin to pray about this asking God to show you what to do. Trust that He will speak to you and then obey what He asks you to do. Consider inviting others to pray with you. Never underestimate the rippling effects of healing and peace that can come from a restored relationship.
Lord Jesus, who prayed that we might all be one, we pray to you for the unity of Christians according to your will, according to your means. May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, to see and confess our sin and being forgiven and restored prepare us to be bearers of reconciliation wherever you place us. Amen.