This week’s post is by John Lundgren, a member of Church of the Redeemer and a leader of our men’s prayer ministry. A physician by vocation, John has a heart for spiritual healing as well. Earlier in December, he gave this teaching on reconciliation at a men’s prayer meeting.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 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. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Reconciliation, to start — I’d like to break the word up a bit.
Re … afresh, anew,
Con … Con means “with.” Con also means against. Either way, there is a significant engagement
Cilia … One of the respiratory system’s defense mechanisms involves tiny, muscular, hair-like projections (cilia) on the cells that line the airways. The airways are covered by a liquid layer of mucus that is propelled by the cilia. These tiny muscles beat more than 1,000 times a minute, moving the mucus that lines the trachea upwards about 0.5 to 1 centimeter per minute. Particles and pathogens that are trapped on this mucus layer are coughed out or moved to the mouth and swallowed.
Cilia—they are wonderful little workers for our body
“Tion” is the “condition of.”
So, if you allow me to look at the word this way: “Reconciliation” is a state of newness, of coming together and moving and working in rhythm for a common purpose.
The holy work of reconciliation
The word reconcile can generate fear in me. I worry that I have to get it all right or there will be red check marks on my paper. “Fit in.” “Correct that.” I want to join and belong and participate in meaningful work, but I fear I’ll be swallowed up by “The System.” However, reconciliation is God’s work, and therefore it is what we also do as His ambassadors.
We have been given the message, the ministry of reconciliation. In Christ, through Christ, we become the righteousness of God. In Him, we are in such right relationship with God and each other that we are His righteousness.
In spite of what we see and read and often what we feel, there is a unity in the Church. Not a sameness, not a homogenous blend but a unity — an amazing diversity as each part does its work
This unity starts (and ends) with Jesus. Christ is the chief cornerstone; the foundation is built on Him. In Him we live and move and have our being. As in Philippians 2, because of the encouragement of being united with Christ, comforted in his love, fellowshipping with the Spirit, being tender and compassionate, we also are like-minded with Christ having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
You could call that a “Christology”
Then there is His mission — to reconcile us and the world to himself, to destroy the dis-integrating works of the devil, to build His Church. His very character of moving toward us in love is His mission. You could call that a “missiology”
Then there is the Church — reconciled to Christ united in Him, and formed to carry out his mission, and ministry and message of reconciliation. The ministry of reconciliation is a movement together toward Jesus: We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. That’s “Ecclesiology.”
The movement of reconciliation
I have become convinced that integral to God’s character is a moving toward. That’s what God does. I wonder if that is what the dance of the Trinity looks like. In the Old Testament He moves toward His people. He literally moves with his people during the Exodus, and He teaches them how to move toward Himself. In the New Testament He moves so toward us that He becomes one of us. Jesus taught us about the eager movement of the prodigal’s Father, searching for and running toward his son. It seems like the Father forgot about his boundaries and his orthodoxy and righteousness when he lifted up his skirts and ran to embrace him.
If righteousness is “right relationship” — with God, our brothers and sisters, our world and even ourselves, should not our “orthodoxy” also be relational? Is it possible to speak God’s truth without moving toward one another in love?
As we become more like Jesus, we also become those who “move toward. Repentance is simply (although, ridiculously hard) turning away from our idols and moving toward our Father. One of the ways we imitate our Lord is by moving toward our spouse, our brother or sister, our parent, our child with open and welcoming arms.
So re-con-cilia-tion is again, to engage in movement toward Jesus and therefore, moving with those who are also moving toward him. The rhythm and the music that draw us onward are made by the generative and regenerative voice of our Creator and Savior who makes all things new.