Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Ministry of Reconciliation

What is the church really called to be? I think that is a question that we do not ponder often enough. Sure, the church is about the five purposes that Rick Warren has shown us. Further, the church is not about me, but is about the glory of God. But, what does all of that mean? How is the church to give God all of the glory?

These are questions that I have pondered lately. Through some reading, and some praying, and some thinking, I think I have a few answers and they can all be summed up in one word concerning what the church is to be about: "Reconciliation." The church is to be all about reconciliation. Think about it, the church is the extension of Christ's ministry and is his body on the earth. Christ came to earth, lived, died, and rose again to reconcile mankind to God. Jesus founded the church as a community of sinners reconciled to God and cleansed of their sins through faith in Christ.

Further, the church is to be a community of reconciliation with the world. The church exists to glorify God and to carry out the Great Commission. If the church is indeed working to carry out the Great Commission, then the church is working to reconcile the world to Christ through evangelism. Missions is a ministry of Reconciliation.

Lastly, the church, if it is to be about reconciliation, must be about reconciliation between believers. The church must not about "forgive and forget, "or "just don't worry about it," or even "ignore it and it will go away." The church is about reconciliation, and reconciliation forces the church to deal with reality and to call a spade a spade, a sin a sin, and a praise a praise. Matthew 18 says that we are to approach our brothers when we are offended, not to ignore the offense. Paul goes on in 1 Corinthians to say that all of our actions should be done with love.

The ministry of reconciliation is not about retaliation, it is about love within a community of faith. The ministry of reconciliation recognizes that Christ died to reconcile us to himself and that the Spirit of Christ is unity. Division is never of God or glorifying to God. Reconciliation, however, is an extension of Christ's grace. As the church, let's focus on loving enough to do the hard work of reconciliation with our world, and with one another. What a beautiful picture it would be if the body of Christ looked and acted like the redeeming and reconciling Christ all of the time.

For more on this, see Making Peace by Jim Van Yeperen