rec·on·cil·i·a·tion – to make two apparently conflicting things compatible or consistent with each other; to bring into agreement or harmony; to make oneself or another no longer opposed.
As I’ve been reflecting on my past, in particular the past eight years and my own returning to the Lord, I can’t help but be drawn to the concept of reconciliation. I was wandering, apart from Christ, pursuing my own aims, lost in sin, and God ran after me in passionate pursuit. He humbled me and then reconciled me to Himself. He refused to be content with me being apart from Him any longer. He wouldn’t have it. Can you relate? Does your story sound remarkably similar?
It’s amazing the gap that is created between us and God by our sin. There’s a distance that causes our hearts to ache the further we wander from His embrace. When we pursue self and sin, there is often a temporary pleasure, but in the end a chasm is created between us and our Father that causes us to feel desperate and alone. The feeling seems all too familiar as I think back to my own seasons of rebellion. My sin not only caused me to be in opposition to God, but also because of His holiness, He opposed me as well. Because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5), it truly is a beautiful thing when God chooses to humble us because He knows that a humbled heart is in position to receive His grace.
We begin this passage in 2 Corinthians 5:17 with the reminder that because we are now in Christ, we are a new creation! Condemnation goes out the window because you and I are no longer that old self anymore. The power of sin that once controlled us by its merciless grip has been destroyed, and we now live as a new creation in Christ. God has made us new and alive in Him, and our old selves have been crucified on the cross. So, do not return to the old self! Live as the new creation that you are!
The fact that God reconciled us to Himself is a gift that could only be given to us through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross (verse 18), and because we’ve been reconciled to God, we can freely extend reconciliation to others. This is a point of conviction for me and I assume for you as well. Who do you need to be reconciled with? Who has betrayed you, hurt you, or wronged you and in this moment God is asking you to forgive? How can we so readily receive God’s gifts of reconciliation and forgiveness and refuse to extend those graces to others? It astounds me that God chooses to not count my sins against me (verse 19) but rather He removes them from me as far as the east is from the west. His grace is amazing. His mercy is matchless.
To whom much is given, much is expected. We have not been given the gift of reconciliation to merely sit on it and keep it to ourselves. God has called us to be His ambassadors (verse 20), those sent out to be His hands, His feet, and His mouthpiece to a lost, hurting, and broken world. He makes His appeal through us. God could choose to perform His purposes alone, without the use of His children, but again He demonstrates His love for us by inviting us into the process with Him. He calls us to Himself, reconciles us to the Father, and then sends us out on His behalf to bring others to this same reconciliation. What a wonderful Savior! He gives us a gift that was meant to keep on giving from one generation to the next. Be His ambassador, and allow God to use you to bring the gift of reconciliation to others. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was not in vain, but rather it was meant for us to become the righteousness of God (verse 21). As we choose to walk in obedience to His Word in this matter of reconciliation, we become more like Him, righteous and whole.
A form of the word “reconcile” is used five times in this passage alone in the NIV. It’s as if God is trying to get our attention by reminding us again and again that we are now His; we’ve been reconciled. We, who were once separated and opposed have now been brought into harmony and fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. Live as one who has been reconciled. Live as the new creation that you are. It brings tremendous joy to the Father’s heart.