Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Gift of Reconciliation. . .

"Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away;
behold, new things have come."
- 2 Corinthians 5:17

Most of us like things that are new, especially useful things. We like new cars, houses, clothes, gadgets and so forth. I think this passion for all things new is especially widespread at Christmastime. Not just in the sense of buying and receiving material gifts, but -- most central to our lives -- in the realm of Christian fellowship.

The word "new" is used many, many times in the New Testament to describe various aspects of Christian life. We read of the new covenant, the new man, the new commandment, the new heavens and new earth, becoming new creations. And the message of the entire New Testament is to show us how to have "a new beginning". It’s through this new beginning that we come to possess several things as a result of God's grace. Of the greatest of these is, of course, Love. Romans 5:5 tells us that “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” Love is our greatest gift and Scripture shows that the first and greatest commandment is to love God, the second one is to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). Yet sometimes we bless God while simultaneously cursing others and gossiping about others and continually judging and forming negative opinions of men and women who are made in His image and likeness (James 3:9-10). We can't seem to let go of regrettable past occurrences. How is this any different than not knowing Christ at all?

“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."
- 2 Corinthians 5:18,19

Reconciliation to God goes hand in hand with reconciliation to others: “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:15). Only God through Jesus Christ can help us fully separate ourselves from past misfortunes and past hurts involving others. God's intervention in our lives is the only path to true reconciliation with others. Our fellowship with each other has to be firmly based on a right relationship with God. (See 1 John 1:3-7).

Like God's first human creatures, Adam and Eve, God's "new creatures" are created in perfect fellowship with God. They are created in His image and are created to do His will (Colossians 3:9-10 and Ephesians 2:10). So many things are made new and Ephesians 2:10). So many things are made new when this happens. We receive a new life; we live by a new standard; we have a new purpose; we have a new perspective; we are called by a new name and we look forward to a new home.

We are not reformed, rehabilitated, or reeducated – we are re-created. We truly are the new! This happens because God has reconciled us by blotting out our sins and making us righteous. We are no longer God’s enemies, or strangers or foreigners to him. And we have the privilege of encouraging others to do the same, and thus we have the word of reconciliation."

If you are not a new creation in Christ this Christmas, the gift of reconciliation is yours through Jesus Christ. Believe in Him. Accept Him. Become passionate about being a new creation! If you are a new creation and are not yet reconciled to others, make this season a time for reuniting, resolving, and reconciling with those who have hurt you as well as those that you have hurt. Sunday, December 2nd has been set aside for a tangible expression of this. Rev. Ron McClung will be our guest this day to encourage us, support us and urge us on to true Christian reconciliation. It is my hope and prayer that many will join us – if only for this one Sunday – to make all things new through the gift of reconciliation.

-Pastor Mark E. Goossen