Updated: Oct 27, 2020
*From Seven Days of Compassion: A Devotion From Nazarene Compassion Ministries.
“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 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 5:16-21 (NRSV)
Not only does God offer reconciliation for us through Christ, but God also invites us to be reconcilers in the name of Christ to the world. God entrusts us with this ministry of reconciliation and calls us to be ambassadors, or representatives for Christ. In such a divided world, this ministry is a powerful witness to the character of God. As the church reaches out to foster right relationships among its members, its community, and across the world, our actions reflect the reconciliation initiated by God.
Reconciliation is restoring a relationship or bringing two together again. Reconciliation creates a new starting point, a new opportunity, a new relationship.
In Radical Forgiveness, author Brian Zahnd explains that reconciliation does not undo past wrongs, but it does restore relationships. For example, in the story of the Prodigal Son, the inheritance the son had wasted could not be restored, but the broken relationship could be. “The past cannot be fully undone,” he writes. “Every past wrong cannot be made right. What can happen is reconciliation. Not cheap reconciliation, but the costly reconciliation based in repentance and grace. This is what God calls justice.”
In the same compassionate way God offers us forgiveness and grace, we are to offer forgiveness and grace to others. In the same way God seeks to reconcile to us, we are to reconcile ourselves to others.
Zahnd writes, “It is forgiveness alone that has the capacity to break the chains of injustice and give us the possibility of a new future—a future unchained from the past and free of bitterness. Unforgiveness has a devastating way of eliminating new possibilities. Everything remains chained to the past, and the suffered injustice becomes the single informing event in the life of the embittered soul. But the choice to forgive breaks the tyranny of injustice and the bitterness it seeks to create.”
Almighty God, in Your compassion, You have reconciled us to Yourself so we can be in right relationship. Thank You for forgiveness and new beginnings. May we prove worthy of the ministry of reconciliation You have entrusted to us. Help us to forgive, even when it’s difficult. As ambassadors for Christ, help us to restore relationships and to hold on to the hope of newness. Amen.
• Do you have a broken relationship with someone in your life? Make an effort to reach out. Ask for and offer forgiveness.
• Evaluate your own perspective and any bias that may prevent you from being truly reconciled to those who are different from you.
• Read the stories of people whose experiences are different from your own—stories of displacement, persecution, poverty, and so on—and ask God to help you see them in new ways. (Find stories of God’s work around the world ncm.org/blog.)
• Build a relationship with someone who comes from a background different from your own (faith, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, etc.). Ask questions, listen, and share your stories together.
• Consider a new kind of mission trip that values partnership and reciprocity. If your church is in a community with financial resources, consider hosting a missions team from an area without those resources; instead of spending money to travel yourselves, use your resources to bring the other team to your community.