2 Corinthians 5:18-19
18 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
Christmas is a great time for most families. Those of us with children and grandchildren are just as excited to see our children open presents as they are to get them. Those of us who are Christians are excited that we can talk about Jesus without fear for the next 2 weeks or so. We will hear the Gospel via music in the stores, in commercials, and on the radio for the next few weeks, and for the most part, no one will be offended.
On the other hand, Christmas can be a very difficult time for a lot of people and families. It can be a time when the divisions and cracks that are ignored all year come to the surface. This can even happen in the family of God, in our local churches and assemblies. Last night, during our mid-week Bible study, I pointed out that as God’s children, we are all in the ministry of reconciliation. I will expand on that in a bit. But the word reconciliation refers to the fixing of an estrangement, particularly that between mankind and God. John Calvin calls reconciliation ‘the peace between humanity and God that results from the expiation of religious sin and the propitiation of God’s word.”
Simply put, man is sinful to the core, God is pure and holy to the core, and these two are estranged and in need of reconciliation. That can only come, as we see in verse 18, through Jesus Christ. You and I are reconciled to God once we come to believe in Jesus and then put our trust in Him for the redemption of our souls and the removal of our sins. Jesus did the work on the cross; this is summed up in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Our reconciliation to God has been paid for in full by Jesus, and from Him, we have His righteousness that allows us to have fellowship with God. We are no longer under condemnation, as per Romans 5:1 and Romans 8:1, and we are justified by faith. Thus, we have fellowship with God and are no longer estranged. Now that we have been reconciled to God, we are now in the ministry of reconciliation (verse 18).
- The Message of Reconciliation to the Lost – verse 19
It is our job as children of God, redeemed ourselves, to now go out and help others to be reconciled to God through Jesus by telling them what God did for us through Jesus. This is the most important mission of Christians and the churches that they attend. Every program, every meeting, every decision, and every goal should have one main theme, one main focus, and one sure goal: how do we get the Gospel to more people? How do we tell others about the reconciliation that we have in Jesus? If there is something that gets in the way of that one thing, it needs to go.
The marching orders of the local church are Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20 and anywhere else that we are instructed to tell others what Jesus did for us and what is offered to all men everywhere, freely from God to us. God, in His loving kindness, has done all He can to make reconciliation possible for every man, woman, and child on the planet who will trust in Jesus. What are you and I doing to help others be reconciled to God?
- The Practice of Reconciliation with the Saved
On top of the act of reaching the lost, we have the idea of breaching the gap between each other. If you have been a part of any group, whether it be a family, an office, a club, or even a church, there will be conflicts. Even the apostles had conflicts and envies between them. We are called to constantly be in a state of being reconciled to each other.
Ephesians 4: 31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Jesus taught about constantly forgiving each other.
Luke 17:3-4, “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
This is how we demonstrate the reconciliation that we have received in Jesus. We are always looking to destroy any kind of estrangement between us and a sibling in the Lord. When we fail at this, we create more and more gaps between us, and soon, these create divisions and hatred inside the Lord’s churches. This is wrong. Our constant desire should be to forgive and to be forgiven. Even the Model Prayer shows us this: we are ‘forgiven as we forgive our debtors.’ God is a God of reconciliation; we, as His people, ought to be the same way. Let go of grudges and let go of unforgiveness; it is an affront to all that the Lord has done and is doing for us.
Let this Christmas be a season of reconciliation. There are people God has placed in your life that need to hear what Jesus did for them. And there are probably people that you need to forgive and that you need to humble yourself and ask forgiveness from. Why wait a minute longer? We are called to the ministry of reconciliation. Too many Christians wonder what God wants from me, but here we have clear instructions. Let us be about God’s business.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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