Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
Over the past two months, we have explored how the gifts of accountability and repentance are acts of grace. When the Holy Spirit confirms words spoken in truth and love (accountability), the person who confronted will inevitably come to a place of repentance and thereby experience a change of attitude and behavior that will align with his or her revised values. The source of this spiritual transformation is reconciliation.
While the contemporary understanding of reconciliation conveys “restoration of friendship or harmony” (Merriam-Webster), the New Testament concept is much more comprehensive and complete. The Greek root for reconcile (found throughout Paul’s epistles) is αλλάσσω (pronounced allasso). Its original meaning is “to change or exchange.” The biblical understanding of reconciliation nuances its context to imply a “change in the relationship” (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology). We see this process unfold in the person of Paul, who first went through a radical relational change with Christ (from persecutor to follower) and consequently made peace with himself (transitioning from a failed works-oriented faith to a life of grace). Later, he would reconcile with the church (becoming a risk-taking advocate and a super-apostle to the Gentiles).
Having personally experienced the saving work of reconciliation, Paul would fulfill his mission to declare this good news to each of the churches he would serve. To the Colossians, he would emphatically proclaim that in Christ: “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20 ESV) To the Corinthians, he would passionately declare that: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18 ESV)
Together, the above two passages reveal to us that by Christ laying down his life for you and me, we have been reconciled upward, inward, and outward. We are first restored to a right relationship with the Father (upward). Knowing that we are forgiven, we find peace for our souls and clarity for our mission here on earth (inward). This assurance then becomes the foundation for sharing the ministry of reconciliation with others (outward). So as we approach this season of Easter, let’s open our hearts and minds to the Father’s gracious gift of reconciliation that leads us upward (in thanksgiving to Father and Son), inward (from the grave to new life in Jesus), and outward (sharing the good news as ambassadors of Christ)!