The Ministry of Reconciliation
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
We forgive others because we have first been forgiven. God, out of the richness of His grace, mercy, and love sent forth Jesus to bear our sin and be our Savior. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because God has restored our relationship with him, we are now empowered to restore our relationships with other. Christ has reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. We all sin, often in ways unknown to us. Using the Bible as a guide, we examine ourselves to see where we have fallen short, we confess our sin to God, and receive God’s forgiveness. Jesus said, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). Having become aware of how our sins have hurt others, we go to those whom we have hurt, and we confess what we have done wrong. Hopefully, the wronged person extends forgiveness. If not, the door is open for a future restored relationship, and you will have done what God’s Law requires. Jesus says in Matthew 5:23-24, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Working toward restored relationships is not an optional part of the Christian life. The Good News is that Christ has first restored you to our heavenly Father and empowers us to restore human relationships here and now. He empowers us to live as an authentic community.
I want to hear from you. What is the biggest stumbling block that you have encountered in trying to restore a relationship with someone with whom you’ve been in conflict? What conflict resolution and reconciliation skills would you like to learn? Leave a comment below.