Without a strong motivation to obey God, we’ll be lured away and find ourselves on the wrong path. One of the reasons we might lack motivation is limited understanding of what God has done for us. As we read the Bible, it can be tempting to skim the text rather than dig deeper to unearth the treasures waiting to be discovered. To help us avoid missing out, let’s examine a term that will inspire us to live fully for Christ.
“The church is not a theological classroom. It is a conversion, confession, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness and sanctification center, where flawed people place their faith in Christ, gather to know and love him better, and learn to love others as he designed.” —Paul David Tripp
Begin by reading 2 Corinthians 5:17-21:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
In this passage, the term that deserves further consideration is reconciliation. In Greek, the word is katallassó—when used to describe people, it means “to change from enmity to friendship.”
In the New Testament, the Greek term apokatallassó is used three times, all in the Pauline Epistles. The word means “to reconcile completely” and refers to Christ’s atoning work on the cross.
Our Need for Reconciliation: According to Romans 5:8-11, mankind has been alienated from God by sin and abides under His righteous wrath. Furthermore, there is nothing we can do to bring about reconciliation. It has to begin in the loving, forgiving heart of God (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
The Means of our Reconciliation: The only way to end the estrangement between man and God was through the death of His sinless Son. The Lord charged all our sins to Christ’s account on the cross and made Him the object of divine wrath. Through Christ’s death, we become recipients of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Because our sins were imputed to Christ and His righteousness was imputed to us, there is nothing standing between us and God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Result of Reconciliation: Now all those who are “in Christ” become new creations, born of God’s Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old things—our enmity and alienation—have passed away, and we have a renewed relationship with God and a new quality of life with godly motivations, interests, desires, and attitudes.
The Message of Reconciliation: Those who have been reconciled to God are then entrusted with “the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). We must be careful not to distort the meaning or make it man-centered rather than God-centered, because it’s the only message that can change someone’s eternal destiny.
“Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys. The aftermath of the ‘fight with fire’ method … is bitterness and chaos, the aftermath of the love method is reconciliation and creation of the beloved community.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
Considering our helpless, hopeless state before salvation and God’s gracious act of pardon and rescue, our hearts should overflow in gratitude. The result should be a desire to live in obedience to Him.
What emotions do the words alienated, separated, and divorced stir within you when you think about a relationship with someone? With God?
After reconciliation, how are your emotions and actions transformed when you experience friendship, intimacy, and acceptance in that relationship? In your relationship with God?