Summary: God balances the books
The Fourth Sunday in Lent March 21
† In Jesus Name †
Grace and Peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ
Verses 18-19 of today’s epistle reading, the 2nd letter of Paul to the Corinthians says,
“18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Twice the word reconciled is used, and action that is done, to us. Twice, the passage mentions that we are agents of reconciliation, servants and those entrusted with this message. It is how we have come to live in Christ – and how we are too live each day messengers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, today, we talk about the verb reconciled, and what the ministry and message of reconciliation is. That we may understand what has happened to us, and that we may further understand the nature of God’s work in our lives, and through us. And when we realize what God has entrusted us with, we will again see the incredible love of God, towards us.
Reconciling our books
Let’s start with reconcile, with the action of God, that works to make us a new creation in Christ Jesus.
Yesterday, someone asked me what this sermon was on – and I said reconciliation, thinking that would be sufficient, as this person is a regular church-go-er. She looked at me, and said that’s a $1.50 word – and then asked me to clarify what that meant. I found it interesting, because it is a word taken from the business world and from the world of practical mathematics. It is something we do, every month, and in a really big fashion, every year.
Monthly, we reconcile our checkbooks, annually, we reconcile all of our income, our expenditures, and what we have paid in taxes, on a form called a 1040A, or a 1040EZ. Both are tedious things, but things which need to be done, to save us from getting into more trouble later.
Merriam Webster defines reconciliation as, to cause to submit or accept something unpleasant. Hmmmm that describes doing taxes and balancing the checkbook – doesn’t it? Seriously there is another definition, to check an account for accuracy and account for all in it. That is what we do, when we do our taxes, we account for our income, and how much we have paid in taxes, and those expenses that do not have to be taxed. Reconciling it all, we find out the news – that we are getting a check, or that we have to send one. If we have done everything accurately, at the beginning of the year, during it, and as we prepare the tax forms, we should find we do not owe anything, At least, that is what I am hoping, when I hit that last key on the computer this week, or maybe next.
If, however, we continue to procrastinate, and we go past the 15th of April, we are in serious trouble. The penalties start to role in, the punishment for not taking care of what should have been completed, for not ensuring things were accurate and complete, and that we had paid enough taxes.
Life can be like that too – our lives need to be reconciled – to see how well we have done. Unfortunately, humanity has been spiritually bankrupt for a long time. This is how the apostle Paul described it, to the church at Rome,
28 Moreover, since they considered themselves too high and mighty to acknowledge God, he allowed them to become the slaves of their degenerate minds, and to perform unmentionable deeds. They became filled with wickedness, rottenness, greed and malice; their minds became steeped in envy, murder, quarrelsomeness, deceitfulness and spite. They became whisperers-behind-doors, stabbers-in-the-back, God-haters; they overflowed with insolent pride and boastfulness, and their minds teemed with diabolical invention. They scoffed at duty to parents, they mocked at learning, recognised no obligations of honour, lost all natural affection, and had no use for mercy. More than this - being well aware of God’s pronouncement that all who do these things deserve to die, they not only continued their own practices, but did not hesitate to give their thorough approval to others who did the same.
Romans 1:28 (Phillips NT)
There is the problem, of course, that we, prior to God’s interruption and entrance into our lives. We didn’t want to bother with Him, but instead, went on our own way. In that day, should we have had to accounted for our lives, should it be demanded, that we reconcile them, to God’s standard, we would have been without hope.