By Michael Gallup
Perhaps my favorite name for Christians is found in 2 Corinthians 5; ambassadors of reconciliation. This concept of being reconciled to God is not a prominent doctrine heard in our churches these days, but a reading of several of Paul’s letters, particularly Romans, teaches us that reconciliation may be the “whole” story behind what Christ was doing on the cross.
Those first few chapters of Romans paint a bleak picture. We have done more than just ignore God, we have become His enemies. This is not just some far off deity growing displeased with his play toys, this is Papa we are talking about. In perhaps his proudest moment, from the depths of a bottomless imagination, He spoke His children into being. They were to be His prize, not just His friends but his very own family. However, like the prodigal son we spat in His face and demanded our freedom, only to find ourselves snatching scraps from under the pig’s trough and let’s be honest, we hated Him for it.
When we think of “being saved” the thought is often of our debts being canceled and rightfully so. Yet God offers us more than just forgiveness, He offers us a repaired and renewed relationship; He offers reconciliation. This is no small matter, lest we forget that God was not just mad at us, we were His enemy. And yet this enmity lays the groundwork for one of my favorite passages: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is more than some charity case or act of benevolance; this is crazy love. Reconcilation is what makes salvation so radical, its like Hitler and Churchill sharing tea, yet oh so much more. The judge has taken up our defense, paid our penalty and then opened his home for us, adopting us. We who warred against God, now find shelter in His camp.
You can forgive a person and not be reconciled with them. Yet what Jesus has done not only gave us a just status, it gave us a relationship. We were made for this, sitting on Papa’s knee, His hand on our shoulder, teaching us to live. Yet Romans, and our lives, has shown us that this relationship still has some mending to be done. Paul encourages us that “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, how much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Our reconciled condition is in a sort of “already but not-yet” state. We are an enigma.
The other day I was walking along the Platte River here in Denver and I came to a garbage dump along the way. As I was looking at the dump, I was shocked at the amazing view I had of Mt. Evans and the sun setting behind it. I was floored by this picture of our present state. As I peered through trash, I saw glory. As we look at one another, may we see past the trash and see glory. May we see each other as what we are, a bunch of already-but-not yets. Jesus said that we must forgive to be forgiven, should we not reconcile so that we may be reconciled? So, let us take up our mantle and become ambassadors of reconciliation, bringing not just good news to the lost (and each other) but friendship as well.