Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:18 (NKJV)
Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God. Our sins had separated us from the relationship with God that we had been created to have. We were sinful and guilty, deserving of judgment.
Can’t Ignore Reality
Many people don’t like to acknowledge this truth—but ignoring reality doesn’t change what is true. We were enemies of God—enemies that God came to save and to make into family.
As Christians, we have now been called to become participants in God’s ministry of reconciliation. We are to proclaim the hope that is in Jesus Christ. We are to model the love of our Savior who sought us out when we were far from Him (Luke 19:10/Romans 5:8).
Both Easy and Difficult
It is easy to proclaim the Gospel message, but it is harder to share Jesus in a spirit of love and humility, particularly with people with whom we have no natural affection, affinity, or kinship. Nevertheless, we are called to love people as our Savior loves them. We are to plead for them to be reconciled to God, AND to become a part of his family—a family of which we are a part. You see, the Gospel doesn’t only reconcile us to God, it also reconciles us to one another.
One Big Family
In the body of Christ, we are made into a family with some interesting characters. Often, people that we never would have chosen as friends are now our brothers and sisters in Christ. Were it not for the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, it would be the most dysfunctional family ever. We encompass different
backgrounds, languages, cultures, interests, passions, and opinions. But as God works in us, we are to be conformed to his image and we are to learn to love one another.
After all, Scripture states: “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21 NKJV)
What to Do?
So, how do we learn to be reconciled to one another? What can we do to make this a reality in our lives?
I decided to list a few elements that can help us to grow in our ability to be better family with one another. Incidentally, some of these principles would be really effective in being agents of reconciliation outside the Church as we look sadly at this very divided time in our culture.
- We need to care for one another. We’ve already looked at God’s command to love one another. We can’t just love one another theoretically. We need to actually love one another. This doesn’t mean that we will always feel the emotion of love, but we need to treat others with respect and honor. Every human being you have ever met was purposely created by God. Every human being is someone Jesus loved enough to die for. Out of respect for our Savior, we need to make the effort to see each other the way Jesus sees us.
- We need to listen to one another (James 1:19). Too often, especially when we disagree with someone, we engage in conversation that is more about speaking our own opinions instead of meaningful two-way conversation. We only listen to respond instead of listening to understand. We need to become better at making sure we are hearing what the other person has to say to us. We need to actually care about their story and the things that are important to them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to change our own thinking. However, we show value when we hear what a person is saying. We also are able to understand what is on his/her heart. It is better to listen carefully than to have a quick retort in order to win an argument (and, maybe, lose a relationship).
- We need to take the initiative. In Matthew 5:24, Jesus taught that we should seek out those with whom we need to be reconciled. This is hard. It is much
- easier to wait for someone else to make the first move or to hope that time will make a situation go away. Unfortunately, this is not what Jesus commanded. We must take the initiative.
- We must be willing to forgive. People will hurt us and offend us. We have to be willing to practice Biblical forgiveness (Matthew 18:21–35). We
- have to choose not to be easily provoked. When a person sins against us, we need to allow the offense to be charged to Christ’s account, knowing that He paid
- the penalty for that sin. It is worth saying, at this point, that complete reconciliation is not always possible. Some people do not want to be reconciled. In
- other cases, even after forgiveness, some relationships need to maintain boundaries. However, we need to release sins done against us to God to let Him
- serve as the righteous judge. We need to model the heart of our Savior who forgave his enemies from the cross.
- We need to know that reconciliation doesn’t mean conformity. Even as we are reconciled with one another, we will still have differences. There will be differences of opinions, politics, musical preference, and so forth. We need to have the ability to continue to love one another in the face of such diversity.
- Consider the disciples: one was a zealot and another a tax collector—that pairing is as unlikely as if Jesus had called a rancher and a PETA activist or former ANTIFA and Proud Boy protestors to come together as members of his inner circle
- Reconciliation isn’t always possible. Some things can’t be reconciled. We can’t give our blessing on sin or approval over falsehood. While we can still love and
- forgive, we cannot equate the goal of reconciliation with moral or spiritual compromise. (2 Corinthians 6:14). The world wants us to accept everything. Some things must be rejected, even while we try our best to be loving. “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense.” (Rick Warren)
- Reconciliation is a miracle. Thankfully, God’s Spirit lives in all of His children. Unity may not be possible on our own, but we don’t have to do it on our own.
- Through Christ, all things are indeed possible. When the world sees what Christ can do, it might be drawn to the healing and beauty seen in His work. And,
- let’s face it, our world needs a miracle right now.