Reconciliation Topical Study

Preaching and Worship Resources about Reconciliation

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The Belhar Confession speaks as a confession and a prophetic challenge when it says, "God has entrusted the church with the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ . . . God's life-giving Word and Spirit has conquered the powers of sin and death, and therefore also of irreconciliation and hatred, bitterness and enmity, that God's life-giving Word and Spirit will enable the church to live in a new obedience which can open new possibilities of life for society and the world."

In Scripture

Hosea "The Lord said to me again, `Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes'" (Hosea 3).

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God" (Matt. 5:9).

First be reconciled "So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift" (Matt. 5:21-26).

We have received reconciliation "But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Rom. 5).

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us" (2 Cor. 5:11-21).

One body ". . . and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it" (Eph. 2:11-22).

Unity of the Spirit ". . . making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all" (Eph. 4).

God reconciled all things "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him" (Col. 1:15-23).

Points to Ponder

Reconciliation Received The theological root of reconciliation is God's action in reaching out toward humanity, even when our human hands might try to push God away. The covenant, the law, Christ in his first coming as an infant and a crucified Savior and, finally, Christ in his return to put all things right are all evidence of God who pursues reconciliation, a restored relationship, with us.

Christ the Reconciler In simplest terms, the broken relationship between God and humanity required mediation. Christ, who was fully divine and fully human, came to earth to represent each to the other. In his sinlessness and death, the penalty for sin was completely paid and "the dividing line of hostility" (Eph. 2:14) was breached. Christ came to earth, died and ascended to heaven in order to work the reconciliation required between God and humankind.

Reconciliation Offered As Christians, we have received the generous offer of reconciliation with God through Christ. As our unique calling, we are to embody this same reconciliation toward others — in personal relationships and through systems of government, commerce, and society that promote unity and equity. The task is large and will never be completed until Christ returns but, as his followers, it is up to us "to make every effort to live at peace with all people" (Rom. 12:18).

The Difference Between Forgiveness and Reconciliation Forgiveness is a decision, often made over and over again, to let someone stand free in your heart and your mind from the wrong they have done to you or to others. Reconciliation is an act of embracing that forgiven person back into your life, with access again to friendship, trust, and love. Reconciliation requires the work of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not require reconciliation. As Christian people, we must work to want to extend our love again, even to people who have hurt us, but it may not always be possible (due to death) or safe (due to abuse or violence) to do so.

Reconciling Church The unity of the church depends on the work of reconciliation among its members. This is always a work in progress for sinful people. One of the great examples of this hard work and restoration is the Reformed Churches in South Africa. The Belhar Confession is a confession written by the churches in South Africa as a testament to their own failures and a celebration of their desire to match their actions to their theological understanding of reconciliation.

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Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.