2 Corinthians 5
I recently watched Finding Hope Now (also more recently titled Streets of Hope) based on the true story of the ministry of Roger Minassian and his book Gangs to Jobs: Faith-Based Gang Intervention for Your City. At 53 Roger left his comfortable pastorate to create a ministry to gang members (something he knew nothing about at the time – except that they needed help – even though they often didn’t want it). I won’t share too much about the movie because I hope you see it for yourself. But at one point a gang member is before a judge who has the power to convict the young man for crimes he did commit and deliver him to a punishment he did deserve. But, Roger was there at the teen’s side – even though this kid had personally caused Roger much personal pain, heartache and property damage. Roger was speaking for the troubled teen. Telling the judge of the change he saw – the old was gone, the new had come. Roger was deep in the ministry of reconciliation – both to reconcile this young man with the court system and his community – as well as to reconcile him to God. Now, you have to watch the movie to see what happened next.
Reconciliation is “the restoration of friendly relations”. And, the world is much in need of it – particularly as it pertains to restoring a relationship with God. Paul says it best here:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 . NIV)
God seeks restoration and “friendly relationships” with His creation. So much so that He sent His sinless Son to carry our sins to the cross so we could become new, righteous creations who could draw near to God. Previously our mountain of baggage and sins we were carrying was keeping us from embracing God. But God made a way for us to set it all down – at the foot of the cross. Because Jesus spoke for us God is not holding our sins against us – if we are in Christ – and have asked for forgiveness, accepted Jesus as Lord, been baptized to demonstrate the putting off of the old self, and are living a life of obedience.
If you aren’t there yet – in Christ – why not? “We implore you on Christ’s behalf. Be reconciled to God.” (vs. 20). Please talk to your pastor or Sunday School teacher or youth group leader or Godly parents or me. You don’t have to wait until you are perfect or you know the whole Bible – none of us Christians fall into either of those categories. You just need to be ready to put the old behind. Drop the junk you are holding onto, accept the sacrifice the Son made for you as he was speaking to his Dad for you and put on a new friendly relationship with God. Be reconciled to God.
If you are there – in Christ – Congratulations! Best choice ever! Daily enjoy that friendly relationship with God that was opened for you by Christ. And, get to work – you have a job to do!
“God has committed/given to us, the ministry/message of reconciliation.” (vs. 18 and 19). Saying it once wasn’t enough for Paul. So, I will repeat it, too. “God has committed/given to us, the ministry/message of reconciliation. (vs. 18 and 19)”. Do it!
If you’ve got the priceless gift of reconciliation with God through His Son – give it to others. It won’t subtract what you have, but it will only multiply as you follow God’s command. Maybe you will bring the message to gang members and in the process save a whole town! Maybe you will boldly speak to a neighbor, family member, friend, co-worker, or church youth and be instrumental in that priceless person’s decision to be reconciled to God. And all of heaven will rejoice with you. Pray for God to show you where to start – and then start!
People are listening. People are looking for hope in a hurting world. Yesterday my heart hurt to hear of a girl in Malaysia who posted an Instagram poll – should she live or die? Tears are falling as I type that she received a 69% response to die – and she took her own life.
The enemy is alive and well and we have a job to do! Spread life and hope and reconciliation. You won’t convince everyone. Paul didn’t. Roger didn’t. But they did change lives because of their ministry of reconciliation. And, we can, too. People need reconciliation with God – even if they don’t know it yet. How will you share it?
In Christ and Reconciled With a Job to Do,