Summary: God's goal is to reconcile every person to himself. We need to understand this as a restoring of relationship, that God has done everything on his side to restore and that we only need to turn to him in repentance and faith. Finally God has placed in our
On September 13, 1993 one of the most famous moments in modern diplomacy took place. President Bill Clinton was instrumental in brokering a peace agreement between Yitzak Rabin and Yassir Arafat in Oslo. It seemed like the Israelis and Palestinians would always be enemies but here was a miracle. There on national television the world was shocked to see these arch-enemies shaking hands with Bill Clinton between them. Today this picture is almost idiomatic of peace. But neither side would have come to this agreement on their own without the initiative of our president. Unfortunately, as we know, the peace didn’t last. But it was for awhile a beautiful example of reconciliation – or at least the start of reconciliation.
What does the word reconcile mean? It’s from the word “conciliate” – meaning to unite or “re-unite” – to restore a relationship. Here in 2 Cor. 5, Paul is reminding us that this is God’s objective – reconciliation with every person alive. Now, realize that no one was born WITH a relationship to God. We are born in sin, separated from God. So we were never united with God in the first place. But reconciling – restoring refers to that perfect relationship that Adam and Eve had. God wants to restore that for each one of us. We need to be brought back to God.
Last week we looked at how the relationship between humanity and God was severed. And then in the curse on the serpent in Genesis 3:15, God was immediately revealing his plan of restoring his relationship to man back to what it was. And this is what he wants for me, for you, for everyone we know. Just imagine a world in which every single person you meet is restored to God. That is not just something to imagine, but something set as a goal in our lives!
This morning we are discovering four keys to open the door of reconciliation.
1. Reconciliation is restoring relationship.
The first key that opens the door of reconciliation is realizing that God’s goal of restoration is connected with our relationship to Him.“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (17) God wants nothing more than to put in the past, the sins of our lives, our horrible failures, what we have done to him and others. He wants the old to be gone and the new to come. He wants every one of us to be in right relationship to him.
Again, the very word “reconciliation” is connected with relationship. This is crucial because it reveals that God’s goal not merely a thinking or a theology.
Remember Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son? After taking his inheritance and spending it all out in the world, he ends up in a pig sty. Finally, he comes to his senses, returns to his Father ready to repent of how he treated him. The son had already rehearsed his words of repentance when he came to his father but before he could get a word in – what happened? Luke 15:20 “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
Do you see that this is not merely a legality – a restored acceptance of father and son? There is compassion, love, hugs and kisses. This is the picture of a restored relationship.
And this is the picture that we should think of whenever we hear this word “reconciliation.” It’s the closeness of God walking side by side with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It’s the same closeness of him walking by you throughout your day through the presence of the Holy Spirit. God longs for and desires that relationship with every single person on this planet!
2. God has reconciled all humankind through the cross.
The second key to opening the door of reconciliation is seeing that God has already done it.
Now when we talk about restoring a relationship that has been broken we might think about marriage. When there is a division between a husband and wife, both are almost always at fault. Maybe the husband has neglected his wife by working long hours. Maybe the wife in her disappointment and frustration has said horrible things and neglected her husband in bitterness. Both should come together and both should recognize their faults and confess in order to begin the restoration process. It’s the same with any friendship and not just marriage.
With God, it’s not exactly the same. God has done nothing wrong – he has been faithful, righteous, loving, truthful while we have been unfaithful, unrighteous, hateful, deceitful… God can’t just say, “no big deal! I’ll let it go. Let bygones be bygones.” He would be unjust if he let sin slide. So in order to reconcile us back in relationship to him, he sent his Son to pay for our debt of sin against him. The cross made it possible for the Father to open his arms and welcome us like the prodigal son’s father.