God has made a reconciliation with us, and now we're invited to participate in God's work of reconciling the world, writes Phil Wagler.
This is the first year Canada officially marks a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Our collective history calls us to set aside time to pause, lament, ponder, listen, consider, repent and move forward into a new future as a collection of peoples who have been given responsibility for this land on the north end of the rocks, trees, prairies and expanse that rises between the Pacific and Atlantic.
This Canadian moment has linked “reconciliation” to the importance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). As important as this work has been – and will continue to be as we plod toward implementation – there is a danger lurking: that we attach reconciliation only to this one area of our social story and task.
Reconciliation, however, is more than what the TRC is calling us to – it is in fact at the heart of the gospel itself. Only to the extent that we learn this will reconciliation become more than something tied to a commission, but more beautifully, the way in which we live every day.
This is particularly necessary for Christians of all ethnicities and histories who believe that a whole and transformative reconciliation is at the very heart, nature and mission of God.
So, what is reconciliation anyway?
I was in Eastern Europe and needed local cash. My friend took me to the back of a jewelry store of all places where I passed American greenbacks through a small window to a shadowy figure I could barely see. It was a strange experience for a North American who would normally enter a bank for such transactions. Yet soon I was passed a large stack of local currency to use – presumably to immediately buy jewelry!
Our great God has completed the Great Exchange. The Bible says that through Jesus Christ we are reconciled to God. This is the best of news. God has exchanged the enmity and brokenness that was the nature of our relationship with God because of sin for the lasting peace of adoption into the family of God. We are children of God through faith in Jesus Christ who laid down His life for His enemies (Romans 5:10; John 1:12; Galatians 3:26).
To be reconciled is to exchange one reality for another. The biblical Greek word katallasso (translated “reconciled” in English) was originally used for the exchange of coins or money and then evolved to express the exchange of one reality for a new one (like singleness for marriage or warring for friendship).
In other words, you exchanged one currency for another as if you have entered a new land altogether. When we surrender our lives to Jesus, we become residents of a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and the old cash simply doesn’t work anymore.
In fact, it has been traded into something new entirely, because you are no longer where you once were or who you once were. Sinners have become saints. God himself was the mysterious figure who made our exchange into this new world possible.
But it gets even better! As a result of this new lasting peace with God (Romans 5:1) we have also been given a ministry – the ministry of exchange. We are given the gift and privilege of participating in God’s work of reconciling the world to Himself.
Having the spiritual identity of the reconciled, we (the Church) receive from God the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). We join Him as currency exchangers in the world. We become ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), the people through whom God is revealing His will and imploring the world to the Great Exchange and its ways and fruit.
The ministry of reconciliation
By its very nature every fellowship of believers – being the localized body of Christ – is positioned to learn, embody and embrace the full reality of this exchange. On one side of the reconciled coin we have a new identity and standing with God because of Christ. On the other side we have a ministry to be about in the world. We are now reconciled and reconcilers.
Consider where God has placed you within this social moment where a day is now set aside for truth and reconciliation. There are Great Exchanges necessary all around, including but not limited to Indigenous-settler relations.
Perhaps co-workers are constantly at odds. Perhaps enmity and strife swirl in your home, neighbourhood, or even church. Reconciled believers are new creations, see the world anew and have the ministry of reconciliation to be about wherever there is opportunity.
This is not an optional program for churches, it is the very ministry given to us by God our Creator and Redeemer (2 Corinthians 5:18). Reconciliation is the Good News.
Is there a place, a relationship or a situation the Spirit is God is opening your eyes to see with new reconciled clarity? How will you become a reconciler there? How can you, follower of Jesus, be an ambassador of the Great Exchange in this land today?
Phil Wagler is North American Network Coordinator for the World Evangelical Alliance’s Peace and Reconciliation Network and serves as a local church pastor in Kelowna, B.C. Photo of eggs by Tengyart on UnSplash. This blog series is produced in collaboration with the WEA PRN. Read all the posts at faithtoday.ca/reconciling.