Summary: Paul here uses an interesting and unusual phrase: "reconciled." What exactly does it mean that Christ has reconciled us?
WHAT DOES "RECONCILE" MEAN? It is bringing two things into agreement.
- The key word in this passage is “reconcile.” This is not a word that we use much in sermons or Bible study, but it’s a good Bible word and it has an important truth to teach us. This morning I want to see what we can learn from it.
- Let’s start by making sure everyone knows what the word means.
- The most obvious example is getting your monthly bank statement. Now, I know that not everyone does this, but most people know how it works. I’ll admit I’m one of those geeky people who actually reconcile my bank account each month. I like to know where I’m at in the account and fix the mistakes that have crept in.
- So let’s make it a simple example. I get my statement from the bank and it says I have $900. In my account I show I have $1,000. I go through first and see what I charged that has not yet come through. Let’s say there are three transactions that add up to $75 that haven’t cleared. Now I’m only $25 off. But what’s that $25? I look at the statement and realize that bought a book off Amazon for $25 and forgot to write that in my checkbook. I write it in and now my checkbook and the bank’s statement are in agreement on how much money is in my account. Two things are now in agreement. They have been “reconciled.”
- Now keep that in mind as we look at this passage and how Paul uses the idea of being reconciled.
SOME HALF-TRUTHS THIS PASSAGE EXPOSES:
1. “In Christ, God met us halfway.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:18a – “. . . God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ . . .”
- Some people speak of salvation as a “meet in the middle” type of arrangement. We were way over here in our sin and God was way over there. Along came Christ right in the middle and brought the two sides together. It is true that Christ is the mediator of our salvation, but the idea of being “reconciled” gives us a clear picture of how the two sides came together.
- The wording is important in this verse. God “reconciled us to Himself through Christ.”
- Let’s go back to the checkbook analogy again. When it comes to our banking accounts, sometimes the bank makes a mistake and sometimes we make a mistake. (Let’s be honest, it’s usually us.) But you have to identify who made the mistake and make corrections to that account so the two can be in agreement.
- When we look at the spiritual reconciliation that is spoken of here, there are two differences. First, the mistake is entirely with us. We know that God is perfect and therefore we know that His “accounting” is without error. Second, we also know that our sin guilt is massive and ongoing. It’s not a single small mistake like the $25 error I spoke of earlier. Rather it’s a ton of sin and a ton of guilt.
- This takes us back to Paul’s phrase. Notice that He says that God reconciled us to Himself. So He worked to make our erroneous “accounting” right again. He worked to bring us back into agreement with Him. This is where the “meet halfway” idea dies. God did not “meet us halfway,” as though part of the error was on His part. This is not like a marital fight where both partners can honestly apologize because part of the blame falls on them. None of the blame here falls on God. It all falls on us. So Paul says that God reconciled us to Himself. God was right but He worked to make our erroneous accounting right. All of this happened, of course, through Christ.
- Now, we need to be careful when speaking of “accounting” as though this was merely a matter of technicalities. We are talking about sin guilt. We are talking about countless times when we chose to do ignore God’s will. But having understood that, we know that God did not meet us in the middle; God brought us to where He was. We were wrong, He was right, and He reconciled us to Himself.
- Now grasping this truth requires that you acknowledge that you are a sinner. That’s a challenge for many people today because we are so quick to minimize sin. But this is the truth that we are given here: God reconciled us to Himself because we were in the wrong.
2. “The point of the cross is to forgive sin.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:19a (“. . . that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.”), 21.