Summary: The Ministry Of Reconciliation
Are you wondering what your ministry is? Are you called to be a pastor…or a teacher…or an evangelist…or a prophet, or even an apostle? (Ephesians 4:11-12) If not, how are you going to effectively fulfill the Great Commission?
Over the years I have found that many believe that only a few are called to "real" ministry. If they don’t fit into one of the fivefold offices listed above, there is an assumption made that they are just one of the sheep and not "shepherd" material. Yet in third world countries, where churches are exploding with conversion growth, the majority of ministry is being done by the "sheep" not the shepherds!
Every believer is given the command by Jesus to fulfill the Great Commission. Jesus said to "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere." (Mark 16:15 NLT) This was not a call for only those who hold a professional position in the church, or have the gift of teaching or evangelism. This was a command to everyone who believes.
We were made a "new creation’ as a result of being reconciled to God "through Christ" and He has now given us the "ministry of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18) It is this reconciliation that gives us the power to fulfill the Great Commission.
The English word "reconciliation" comes from the Greek word katallage and means to be renewed in friendship. To be reconciled to God means to have God not just as Lord, but as a friend, your Friend! This means that every human being can have an intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe because of the price Jesus paid for this privilege through His death on the cross. We are the one’s who need to be reconciled because our sin has alienated us from God, so it is God who does the reconciling. And it is God who breaks down those sin barriers that keep man from having eternal fellowship with his Creator. Man can only be reconciled to God through the shed blood of Jesus.
If you desire every spiritual seeker to have an incarnational experience at your church then, just as the Apostle Paul, you must have reconciliation and forgiveness as the main theme of your ministry. In his letters to the churches he clearly taught that the ministry of reconciliation is the foundation of Christianity. Paul wrote that we were all at one time "alienated from God and were enemies" because of our "evil behavior." But now, Jesus "has reconciled" each of us "by Christ’s physical body through death" so that we could be presented "holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation." (Colossians 1:21-22) Now you can see why reconciliation is so important to God. It is the very reason Jesus left the Father’s side and all the comforts of heaven to walk among us and die for all mankind. This is why we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. God wants us to share in "reconciling the world to himself in Christ" as "ambassadors" of forgiveness to the world. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
Once a spiritual seeker receives God’s message of reconciliation they will have the assurance that their friendship with God will never end. The Apostle Paul was absolutely convinced that "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38) What great love the Father has shown us!
Not to long ago, a survey was taken in churches that represented a wide variety of denominations. Church members were asked, "What do you feel the purpose of the church is?" Eighty-nine percent responded that the church existed to meet their own needs! Eleven percent responded that the purpose of the church was to win people to Jesus. The pastors were asked the same questions and in complete contrast, 91 percent responded that the main purpose of the church was to win people to Jesus-with only 9 percent responding that it was to meet members’ needs! It’s no wonder that churches aren’t growing and pastors are constantly changing churches!
The Great Commission shows us that the fundamental purpose of the Church is to reach the world for Christ by becoming "fishers of men." You can’t clean the fish until you catch them. And you can’t catch the fish with a bare hook. You need bait that attracts the fish.
Years ago I knew a family who raised sheep. They had to first bring (attract) them to the ranch. The sheep would not have come on their own. In the new surroundings they became timid and frightened, and some even got sick. Had it not been for the corral that enclosed them, they would have escaped this new and fearful place. At first they would not respond to the shepherd’s voice. Yet, once they felt safe and secure and saw that their needs would be met, they began to respond to the shepherd and even started having little sheep. The flock began to grow by leaps and bounds. Healthy sheep beget new sheep and healthy churches beget new Christians. Unhealthy churches don’t reproduce.