Reconciliation: Part 1 – Reconciliation between us and God
The Bible speaks of reconciliation. In fact it is a very important topic in the Bible. Reconciliation occurs where two parties who were estranged from one another, perhaps at enmity with one another, are now in right relationship with each other.
The key relationship of reconciliation in the Bible is, of course, between us and God. The Bible says that in our natural state we are not neutral towards God. Many non-Christians think that they are neutral towards God – that they have nothing against God. They just quietly get on with their lives without God. The Bible sees this as being at enmity with God and as siding with the devil. For God loves us and has given us everything we now enjoy – even our life itself (Acts 17:25; cf Acts 14:17). Ignoring God and getting on with your life as if he is of no importance amounts to what is monstrous ingratitude (Romans 1:21). In our natural state we are not neutral towards God. We are estranged from him as his enemies: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:1-2). Our natural state is one of hostility to God: “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.” (Rom 8:7).
The enmity between us and God is of course two-way. God is angry with those who are hostile to him. Ephesians 2:1-2 quoted above goes on to state that we were “by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph 2:3). In our natural state we are the objects of God’s wrath.
But in his love God has reconciled us to himself through the death of his Son: “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them … For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:19, 21). The Bible says that we who trust in Jesus have been reconciled to God – we who were God’s former enemies: “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom 5:10); “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death.” (Col. 1:21-22). Wonderful news!
We are now right with God (Rom 3:21-26). We who were once estranged have been reconciled to God. But we have not been reconciled alone, as if we alone are in right relationship with God. We are now in right relationship with everyone else who is also in right relationship with God. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are also in right relationship with God, and we are now one family of God together (Mark 10:29-30). Jesus therefore said his disciples would be known as those who love one another (John 13:34-35; cf 1 Jn 2:10-11).
The problem is we are still sinful as Christians and can say and do hurtful things to one another. We can become estranged and hostile to one another. True, this should not be. But it happens. Perhaps it is the case for you, between you and another Christian?
The Bible is clear that we must forgive: “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Col 3:13; cf Eph 4:32). This may not lead to reconciliation, since it takes two to be reconciled. However we must be willing to forgive the other person, as the Lord has forgiven us. More of this in the next instalment on reconciliation…
Check back on the 5th of September for Part 2 of RECONCILIATION when Martin writes, “It doesn’t matter how much someone else has hurt me, it will be an exceedingly rare day that I can say that I, for my part, have done nothing wrong.”