We live in a particularly contentious time. There are deep divisions and hostilities in the world, our nation, our denomination, and occasionally even in our families. If we are really honest with ourselves, sometimes we are divided in our own hearts and minds as well. We argue, fight, and turn away from each other in disgust when we make no headway in bringing people around to our way of thinking. Our relationships are the casualties of these conflicts and broken relationships can be as painful and deadly as any physical wound. In the worst cases there can even be physical harm from war, domestic violence or self-harm. I’m convinced that the Evil One celebrates every wedge that is driven between people and especially the wedges that separate us from God.

On the cross and in the tomb, Jesus won the war against all of the evils in the world and, most importantly, over the evils in our own hearts. Reconciliation is not just one of the blessings we receive from Jesus but is in fact at the very heart of Jesus’ (and our) mission in the world. Romans 5:10 says, “10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” This tells us that reconciliation is not a result of our salvation but is the method of God saving us. We are reconciled, then saved!

This reconciliation is not just between individuals and God but is also between people. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 says, “18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Becoming the righteousness of God does not only mean avoiding our own sin, it means being ministers and ambassadors of reconciliation. In Christ, while we were God’s enemies, he forgave us and reconciled us to God, let us be reconcilers, forgivers, and relationship builders with our enemies.

Jesus tells us to “be reconciled to one another” (Matthew 5:24). Stand up for your beliefs, but believe most of all that in Jesus, all of our conflicts are forgiven and healed by the cross. The love of God and neighbor is God’s goal for each human and as Christ’s ambassadors let that be our goal in this very contentious world.

Pastor Jim

Hanna United Methodist Church

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