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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ministry of Reconiciliation

It happens all the time. People say something like, "I just want to know God's will for me." And they say it emphatically, with passion and sincerity. The thing is that most of them are intelligent people. (If they weren't intelligent, would they care?) But being intelligent also puts them in a realm of responsibility. Said differently, because they are so intelligent, they should already know at least a big more about God's will for them.

I won't be judgmental here. I'll just point out the facts. God has made it abundantly clear what His will for us is. Seeking Him first, submitting to Him, and doing things His way all come to mind. But it really is even more simple than that.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 tells us, among other things, that "God reconciled Himself to us through Christ Jesus and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Cor. 5:18)

Did you catch that? God reconciled us to Himself through Christ. And then He assigned us the ministry of reconciliation. In fact, it's the only ministry God has ever given mankind! So what does this ministry of reconciliation mean? It means we are to spend our lives being reconciled to Christ, being reconciled to each other, and helping others be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

1 John 3 is another clear message from God about His will for us. He says in 1 John 3:8 that, "He who does what is sinful is of the devil ..." and continues in 1 John 3:9 that, "No one who has been born (again) of God will continue to sin ... he (or she) cannot go on sinning ..." God concludes this point by summing it up as in 1 John 3:10, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anything who does not love his (or her) brother (or sister). This how we know who the children are God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his (or her) brother (or sister).

Wow! Did you drink that all in? God's saying if you don't engage in this ministry of reconciliation, then you're just kidding yourself about being a Christian. He says, in fact, those who aren't engaged in this ministry of reconciliation actually belong to the devil! Read the rest of 1 John 3 to see more of God's perspective on this. And be challenged by it. Ask yourself if He's talking about you. Ask God if He's talking about you.

Let's look at one more point on this ministry of reconciliation that God has given His people. In Matthew 5:23-34, Jesus said that if we come to worship the Lord, and are aware that anyone has anything against us, we should set aside our worship ... and first go and do whatever we can to be reconciled to that individual.

Notice two things about this passage. First, He didn't say if we have wronged that individual. He just said if the other individual thinks we have wronged him or her. So we don't even have to agree with them. But we are to do our part to be reconciled to them, no matter what. The second thing to notice about this passage, is that God places a higher priority on our ministry of reconciliation than He does on our worship of Him!

2 Corinthians 5 continues in the story of our ministry of reconciliation. It says that our reconciliation should be obvious. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that, "if anyone is in Christ, he (or she) is a new creation ..." He continues in 2 Corinthians 5:20 by explaining that we are Christs ambassadors!" It's clear that Christians are supposed to look radically different than the world around us. In fact, we're supposed to look like Christ! We are to reflect His life, character, nature, love and spirit. So this ministry of reconciliation that we have ... it gets executed from a decidedly different position than we've ever been in otherwise.

Finally, this ministry of reconciling ourselves to God through Christ, being reconciled to others and helping others be reconciled - it doesn't get accomplished in a one time simple prayer where one allegedly gives one's life to Christ. No, it requires changed thinking, changed attitudes, changed words and behaviors - and even changed love.

And what if we don't make that change? Well, God has a few words for us there too! 2 Peter 2:20 says that if we have been saved - come to the knowledge of Christ - but engaged become tangled in the worlds ways, our condition is worse off than before. In other words, if someone comes to Christ and doesn't make the change to be a different person, he or she is then worse off than before they were a Christian! Can you imagine that? What if you knew that person? What if you were that person yourself?

I could preach a whole sermon here, or write a book about this ministry of reconciliation. But the simple point is that God has made His will for you and I quite clear. We are to spend our lives being reconciled to Him, being reconciled to each other, and helping others be reconciled to Him. Quite frankly, there is no other ministry that we are authorized to engage in.

So whatever worldly position I want to pursue, cooking, a clown ministry, teaching, preaching, music or whatever, it needs to fall under this ministry of reconciliation. Otherwise, I need to seriously ask myself which god I may be serving.

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