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The Ministry of Reconciliation

 

“God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”

                                        2 Corinthians 5:19

            Paul, the Apostle and the writer of much of the New Testament, could not have expressed it more easily and completely, or in more simple words.  This is what it means to be brought back into harmony, to be in unity, to be at-one-ment with God.  The goal of reconciliation is just one thing: friendship.  God wants everyone to be his friend.

 

            Important as the Cross is, let’s not forget, dismiss, or downplay what Jesus said to those he came to tell about his Father, which includes, of course, everyone who has ever lived on this planet.  From the Garden of Eden to the Flood; down to the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; all through the time of the Prophets, Kings David and Solomon; to the Babylonian Exile; to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem; and then onward through the past two millennia of time since the Crucifixion.  Everyone, in some fashion, has had access to Jesus and his message about his Father, whether by direct or indirect means.  Paul writes in Titus 2:11 these words: “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”  Realize, of course, for those people who lived before the time of Paul the Apostle that they did not have his words to study and read, but God’s grace has always existed as well as Jesus and the Holy Spirit who can influence and instruct those willing to listen.  And with Jesus being the active agent in the Creation process, “the grace of God that brings salvation…to all men” has left no one out.
            Paul the Apostle recognized and emphasized the reconciliation of mankind with its Creator, so he made the statement: “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” in2nd Cor. 5:20.   How far had mankind drifted away from God since Creation?  Well, a long, long way as evidence since that time proves, and to think that even while in the Garden of Eden, it became the initial time that fear came into existence.  God called out to Adam “Where are you?” and Adam answered, “I heard you in the Garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” Gen 3:9, 10.  Strange, isn’t it, that the first person to be feared and afraid of by mankind was mankind’s Creator, God himself.  Fear usually exists between two people primarily because they don’t know each other.  When Adam and Eve first experienced fear and guilt, reconciliation needed to take place.  Down through the history of time, the need for reconciliation has not diminished either, as it’s an ever-growing problem that identifies the absence of unity, harmony, agreement and oneness with God.  Everyone needs to be at-one with God.

 

Because we live on this side of the Crucifixion, the Cross has become the main emphasis and focal point for many people.  There are many who make the statements: “God loves you; Jesus died for you.”  And while both statements are recorded in Scripture, it seems as though much is left out, especially the words that Jesus spoke.  Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the River Jordan and “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’  Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Matt. 4:1-4.  How important are God’s words?  Jesus said: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  Mark 13:31.  Jesus also stated: “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.  For I do not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.  I know that his command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”  John 12:48-50.
            Jesus, the Word of God, came to tell us about his Father; we need to heed what he said.  Sadly, in Jesus’ time there were not many who believed what he said, but there were many who believed he was a radical that was causing a lot of trouble for the religious community.  And if you were part of the religious community and wanted to remain that way, you did not question those in charge of the system who disagreed with Jesus.  Jesus came to dispel the darkness and the lies that dwelled in the minds of these individuals, but was met with strong resistance.  Instead of accepting “the grace of God that brings salvation,” many in the religious hierarchy were like Adam and feared Jesus instead, and because of that fear, they chose to silence him.  When people consider someone else to be a threat to their beliefs, and additionally refuse to investigate what the other person is all about, becoming friends with that person is not likely to happen.  Friends spend time together; friends like each other; friends admire each other; friends talk with each other; friends understand each other.  It was Jesus who said to his disciples: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”  John 15:15.

 

“God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself,”

not just by Christ’s death on the Cross, but, more importantly, by the way Jesus represented and revealed his Heavenly Father to others through his words and actions, and through the way he treated people, even those who were seeking his death.


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