Our Ministry of Reconciliation
“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled with God,” II Corinthians 5:17-20.
As I was reading through this passage earlier this week, I began to see our ministry of reconciliation in a different light. The Word tells us that we are to plead on Christ’s behalf for others to be reconciled to God. But first, what is reconciliation? When I am reconciled to someone, I am reunited with them. I am accepting of them and now we are compatible. Since I have now accepted God and am in right relationship with Him, I am urging others to do the same. I am called to be the bridge between others and God. My ministry is to be one of reconciling the lost with the saving love of Christ. I am standing in the gap. I have my left arm reached out to the lost and my right arm hanging on to my Savior. I am not letting go of either one. That’s the ministry that we are called to. We are to reconcile one side with the other.
Can you truly picture this ministry of reconciliation? As our arms are stretched out on either side of us, what do we look like? Really picture it. Do you see it yet? One arm stretched to the lost. The other arm stretched to our Savior. Head bowed in complete surrender. Do you see it? Do you see yourself stretched out on a cross? I had to ask myself if this is how we die daily. Is this what the apostle Paul was referring to in I Corinthians 15:31? As we take up our cross each day is it less of a load and more of a lifestyle? Is it simply living stretched out for others?
The Word says in II Corinthians 5:20 that we are to beg people to be reconciled to God. We are to plead with them on behalf of God Himself! He has passed this ministry of reconciliation from Christ to us. As I am hanging on to God, I am in turn reaching out to others and pulling them as hard as I can toward Christ. Through His strength in me, I am narrowing the gap between them and God. This is the ministry that I have clearly been given. I am bringing people into communion with God through His Son, Jesus. Luke 14: 23 says, “…Go out into the highways and along the hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”
Imagine that you have a trailer stacked with amazing items that you just found at a yard sale or, an auction. A bungee cord is on one side of your trailer and it has got to reach to the other side or, all that precious cargo will be lost. You must get that bungee cord over the top and latched to the other side or you will lose it all as you take off down the road. Let me ask you, how hard are you working to get that bungee cord to fit? How hard are you pulling? How hard are you praying? How hard are you pleading with the Lord to help you connect this bungee cord to the other side? Why? Because you know that if you can just get the cord to connect to the other side, all will be well. You will have reconciled the difficult load with the solution.
This is our ministry. We are reaching, pulling, praying to connect people and their load of sin to the solution, our Savior. We are not going to leave them on the side of the road. We are not going to give up. The task is too important. The cargo is too precious. We must help them make the connection.
I confess that at times I have felt myself slip my grasp from my Savior and try to bring people to Him on my own, in my own strength. He still has me, but I have let go and tried to do this ministry without Him. Let me just save you some trouble…it can’t be done. Both sides have to be connected. There is NO WAY we can be ministers of reconciliation without His strength, His wisdom, the drawing power of His Holy Spirit. He is the true Minister of Reconciliation and we are His representatives. It is His work and we are His servants.
I also confess that at times I have only held on to my Savior and not given a thought to reaching out to others. Again, both sides have to be connected. I am called to live a stretched-out life, not a reclusive self-involved life. To fulfill God’s charge to me, I must be a minister of reconciliation.
To die daily is not fun to our flesh, but we only have true peace when our selves are bowed low to the Spirit of Christ working in us and through us. According to verse twenty of our passage, we are not even the ones actually pleading with people, it is “as though God were entreating through us.” How easy is that? We are not even the ones making the decisions. It’s all Him. We are bowed low, stretched out and dead to self so that He can minister through us in this ministry of reconciliation. Praise His Name! We are not worried about offending or, the timing of a conversation. We are trusting that all is in His hands and in His time. He will simply let us know. How refreshing; no worries, just surrender.
It is up to you and me whether we lay hold of the ministry that Christ has entrusted to us. It’s a personal choice whether we live a stretched out life, whether we accept our ministry of reconciliation. As we make that daily decision though, let’s think about the neighbor, the family, maybe even the child that will never be touched without our hand doing the reaching. We are called to reconcile. We are called to serve. We are called to love. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us…” (II Corinthians 5:20). We are ambassadors. We are called to snatch people out of the fire as Jude 23 says.
Let’s make the right choice today and tomorrow and the next day. Let’s surrender to Him and accept the call to live stretched out lives, lives that are clinging to our true Source with one hand and reaching out pleading to the lost with the other. Let’s do this thing. Let’s be ministers of reconciliation.