The Ministry of Reconciliation
2 Cor 5:17-18 (NKJV)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
Recently I heard 2 Cor 5:17-18 in church, and it hit me. One of the major themes of this book is “reconciliation.” Not in the strict sense of the “ministry of reconciliation” as this Scripture specifically speaks to, but a reconciliation of the members within the body of Christ.
You may be thinking that since this Scripture deals with the reconciliation of the lost to God that it has no application to the members of the body of Christ. In the purest sense, that would be true. However, as members of the body of Christ, we are all new “creations” who have been reconciled back to God together through Jesus Christ. In our reconciliation, we have a new shared identity that takes precedence over our previous identities.
Our previous identities, specifically as members of a particular race, are part of the old things that have passed away. I’m not saying that we aren’t to have pride in our ethnic origins and identities, but as members of the body of Christ, our racial and ethnic identities are supposed to be subservient to our new creation identity.
Rom 12:2-5 (NKJV)
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
The premise of this book is that we in the body of Christ have not let old ideas about race and ethnic origin pass away. The Scripture above tells us “not to think more highly of” ourselves than we “ought to think,” recognizing that we are all members of the body of Christ and “individually members of one another.”
In essence, that’s what racism and bigotry are, thinking more highly of ourselves, as it pertains to our ethnic/racial ancestry than we should. As a nation, collectively, we, however, have not “renewed our minds” in this area. Further, we have allowed ourselves to be “conformed” to the “world’s” way of accenting differences and assigning negative values to those differences. In his book, “Christ the Healer,” F. F. Bosworth says, “Remission is the wiping out of everything connected with the old life.” (Bosworth, 1973)
Racism and bigotry are sinful ways of thinking and mindsets “connected with the old life.” These mindsets reflect a hardened heart that has not yet been renewed with the truth of the Word of God that, as members of the body of Christ, we are all one.
Rev 20:12 (NKJV)
“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”
Ezek 33:8-9 (Berean Study Bible)
“If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ but you do not speak out to dissuade him from his way, then that wicked man will die in his iniquity, yet I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you warn the wicked man to turn from his way, and he does not turn from it, he will die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.”
As the Scriptures above attest, all of us have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” and will stand before God and give an account. There is most definitely no room for racism when someone’s soul is in the balance. How can we stand before God and say that I did not warn this one or let my light or your love shine to that one because of their race?
Racism and bigotry were the elements that hardened Jonah’s heart against Nineveh and caused him to try to refuse to deliver a message of deliverance and salvation to an entire group of people—120,000 souls. (Jonah Chapter 4)
We are extensions of God’s mercy and deliverance to the world, not just to those that look like us. Could it be that God would use us as He did Jonah to bring deliverance to people we don’t like, people we even have allowed ourselves in our “old thinking” to come to despise?
Many have an “us” and “them” mentality that is non-existent in Heaven. From God’s perspective, we are in two groups, those that have accepted His Son and those that have rejected Him. Those whose names are “written in the Lamb’s Book of Life,” and those whose names are not (Rev 13:18, 21:27). That’s it.
We know from Revelation chapter 7 that a beautiful mosaic of redeemed races makes up the unified worshippers of Heaven:
Rev 7:9-10 (NKJV)
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
We often pray an “Our Father” prayer that contains the phrase, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” God’s will in Heaven is one body of believers from all nationalities and people groups, yet we resist that picture here on Earth. I noticed that the passage from Revelation chapter 7 did not have some people groups assembled on a higher platform than others. It is absurd even to consider such a thing in Heaven since we, as created beings, are nothing before the Almighty God. Our only value exists in His love for us and our return of that love.
As lovers of God and recipients of His great love, we will all fall prostrate as equals before Him. How then do we allow ourselves to make such distinctions during our very brief time down here on Earth?
1 Cor 12:17-26 (NIV)
“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
The vision of God’s will in Heaven is one body of believers worshipping Him and living in His presence. His vision for us on Earth isn’t too much different. God’s vision for us on Earth is one body of believers, with different parts, contributing different things, but joined together, working to fulfill His purpose in the Earth (“thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”).
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