The Ministry of Reconciliation

2 Cor. 5:18-21 (NLT)
18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,* so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Reconciliation is a term found throughout Paul’s letters. The concept of reconciliation is central to Paul’s understanding of the meaning of Christ’s saving work on the cross.  The word translated as “reconciliation” (katallasso) means “to change, exchange.”  In the relationship between God and humanity, reconciliation is the work of God.  Reconciliation is what God accomplished, exercising God’s grace toward sinful humanity through the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  (2 Cor. 5:19)  As a result of sin, humanity was alienated from God and under God’s wrath.  In God’s great grace, God invites humanity to be reconciled to God.  God invites us to accept the provision for reconciliation that God has made through Christ, so that our sins can be forgiven, and we can be justified in God’s sight in Christ.

In Romans 5:10–11 (NLT), Paul expresses it this way:

10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
The cost of God’s reconciliation was the death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:1-11).  Paul’s fullest expression of the meaning of Jesus’ death upon the cross is in 2 Cor. 5:18-21.  Paul had reminded the Corinthians earlier that the cross is central (1 Cor. 15:3-5).  Now he elaborates on the meaning of salvation through the cross.  The Good News about Jesus Christ centers on the cross.  Any Gospel that does not center on the cross, loses the power of the cross.
On the cross, Christ identified with human sin, so that sinners might be reconciled to God, that is, so that our relationship with God might be restored.  Reconciliation turns enemies of God into friends with God.  The cost of this reconciliation is that “God made Christ who never sinned to be the sin offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”  (2 Cor. 5:21)
With the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his triumph over death, a new world is born.  We now live in the light of Easter.  As a result, God’s people have the promise of eternal life with God.  Those who have faith in Christ for salvation receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as our seal and guarantee of that promised blessing.  We know that God has accepted us and will welcome us into God’s loving presence forever.
Lord, help us to live every day knowing that we are your children, knowing that through the death of Jesus Christ, our Lord, upon the cross, we are reconciled with God.  And not only does God call us “friends”, but even more blessed, God calls us “son” and “daughter,: and says to us, “enter into my presence…forever.”  Help us to live each day in the light of eternity.  Help us to live each day as God’s Easter people, God’s resurrection people.  Amen.

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