An incredible amount of high profile, intense, and polarizing events have taken place in the last several weeks: protests, anti-protests, hurricanes, and shootings, just to name a few.
Such a rapid storm of events has rendered this blogger speechless during this time. Just today I commented to a friend that I need a few days for something to stew before I can write about it, and with event after event taking place, I found it hard to express any substantive thought.
(This entire post was written on Tuesday, October 3rd, slightly less than 48 hours removed from the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, and weeks removed from protests in Charlottesville, several massive hurricanes hitting the U.S., NFL protests, chaotic foreign relations, and talks of nuclear war. And this is just on a national level.)
If there has been one theme that has woven itself throughout the last month it is the theme of reconciliation: the restoration of civil and respectful relationships. Recent times have proven that reconciliation is desperately needed between individuals, nations, people groups, races, political parties, and generations.
As a follower of Christ and pastor at a church comprised of Christ followers, we have been reminding ourselves of the following truths found in Scripture that pertain to this idea of reconciliation:
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (An excerpt from 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, emphasis mine)
There is indeed a call to each and every follower of Christ to carry out the message of reconciliation, that is, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in some expression, without shame or bias. Christ followers are not only implored to do this, but by the Spirit of God, are adequately equipped to do this as well.
Truthfully, as I consider both the breadth and depth of recent local, national, and world events, the task of being a “minister of reconciliation” seems absolutely daunting. If we are being honest, lament and contemplation brings us to a place where despite a memorization of Philippians 4:13, the temptation of impossible rings in our heads.
To this end I offer the following:
The seeds of reconciliation in the world are cultivated in the midst of reconciliation within the Body of Christ.
To put this more plainly, if Christ followers can’t have civil and respectful relations with their brothers and sisters in Christ, then they don’t have a dog in the fight for reconciliation outside of their Christian circles.
Gossip, false testimony, quarrels, and disagreements are addressed in the Scriptures for a reason. These are real issues, and if nothing else, reconciliation is needed in the Body of Christ.
It would be wise, therefore, for the Christian to understand and be comfortable with the fact that people they share ‘the pews’ with have different views on things like immigration, gun control, and politics (to name three of literally hundreds of examples). Furthermore, anyone currently outside of the Body of Christ deserves the same, if not more respect, than those currently inside.
The Spirit of Christ compels and enables the Christ follower to engage issues needing reconciliation with the love of Christ. If the love of Christ is not being shown, then the spirit of self and the world is afoot.
My Christian brothers and sisters: If we ourselves are not reconciled to God, and, if we are not reconciled with those within the Body, then we cannot be the ambassadors that God is calling us to be in this world.
“Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.”