Reconciliation is a word that is often used, but maybe not entirely understood. It strikes me as a word that has lost its richness in our use of it. Wikipedia gives an application of reconciliation in five completely different arenas—accounting, government, history, relationships, and religion. How can one word have so many meanings?
Webster’s Dictionary defines reconciliation as, “when former enemies agree to an amicable truce.”
That’s helpful, but when I did some digging, I found out that the Greek root of the word means an exchange of some sort. One Bible dictionary’s definition is, “to change from enmity to friendship.” Hmm. A few observations, based on both of these definitions:
Reconciliation is deep.
Enmity means deep-seated hostility, “enemy” isn’t reserved for a casual relationship, and you wouldn’t use “reconciled” to describe two friends who have always had a great relationship. If there’s a need for reconciliation, or two people have been reconciled, it’s because something deep and difficult has occurred in the context of their relationship.
Reconciliation is active. Did you catch the word change in the second definition? Or truce in the first one? You won’t be reconciled to another person by passively waiting for a solution—it requires intentionality.
Reconciliation has a purpose. From enmity to friendship. For an amicable truce. Reconciliation is restorative. It bridges separation and repairs the damage that had been done.
Are you starting to see how powerful this word can be? The richness just below the surface?
The Bible uses “reconciled” to describe our relationship with God when we put our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin. Look at Colossians 1 and see what Paul has to say:
“For in Him 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. 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, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him.”
We can see all of our earlier observations brought to life in the example of Christ’s death reconciling us to God.
Reconciliation is deep. Alienated, hostile, and evil. Though these words may cause you to bristle, it doesn’t take much reflection to see them in our own stories. From the very beginning our souls have rebelled against God. Our sin is essentially us proclaiming that we don’t need God—that we ultimately know a better way to think, live, and relate to others. Oh man, as much as I wish that wasn’t my attitude, it is. It’s deep in my soul.
Our sin is all over and we cannot “fix it.” Reconciliation cannot be achieved by means of behavior modification because the problem is our very nature! There is no way our good deeds will ever outweigh the darkness of sin in our souls. We’ll never be enough on our own.
Reconciliation is active. BUT, GOD. When we come to the end of our own efforts and realize they will never adequately compensate for our rebellion, God reconciles us to Himself! He took the action that was needed when He sent Jesus to bear the penalty for our sin. He knew we would never be able to do it, and He provided a way. He initiates the reconciliation we long for but cannot achieve. This is the Good News!
Though God Himself initiates the process, action is required on our part, too. We cannot be reconciled through passive assent to God’s existence. We must choose to accept the sacrifice of Jesus to cover our sin and yield to His Lordship in order to be fully reconciled to God. Just like two friends declaring a truce, full reconciliation requires action from an initiator (God) as well as the other party (you and I).
Reconciliation has a purpose. Colossians tells us that God has reconciled us through Christ, “in order to present [us] holy and blameless and above reproach before Him.” What a glorious purpose! Being reconciled to God brings Him glory and is for our eternal good. The relationship we were intended to have with God has been restored from its rebellion, through Christ!
The purpose of reconciliation in our lives also extends to others. Consider 2 Corinthians 5:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
We are tasked with the ministry of reconciliation – telling others that a restored relationship with God for eternity is possible and that God has already initiated it, doing what we could not. When we lean into and love the richness of what it means to be reconciled to God, we can’t help but be ambassadors for Christ.
So let’s lean in. Let’s meditate on this glorious truth. Let’s implore others to be reconciled as we ourselves reap the eternal benefits of a deep, active, purposeful reconciliation with God Himself.