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The Gospel of Reconciliation.

Timely and important thoughts from my good friend, Don @ One Bondservant’s Diary.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthian 5:17-19).

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This Is the Image of Jesus Christ Gracing the Cover of Newsweek | TheBlaze.com

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:18-25).

The article above blatantly begs for some comments and questions. It is obviously a very postmodern take on Christianity. The message? If you are going to be a follower of Christ, do as He did and live as He lived…but keep it to yourself. Christianity must be confined to religious gatherings and private residences and is not to interfere with the public domain of politics, education, government, and society at large. Although it’s silly to think that following Jesus wouldn’t impact the way we engage all of life, culture, and creation, this gives us pause. Is God primarily interested in redeeming His creatures (people), our culture, or His creation?

First, let me say, I believe He is in the process of redeeming all of them. This is what Paul is saying in the passage above. God’s creation is in bondage in the same way unredeemed sinners are. This passage tells us that God’s chosen and His creation will ultimately be freed from the futility and slavery of their corruption. We live in a fallen world filled with fallen people but a day of final reconciliation and redemption is coming. God created all things. When humanity disobeyed, all things He created fell and were marred by sin. Therefore, eventually, He will redeem and restore all of His creation to its original beauty and perfection. And, according to Paul, this is a critical part of our hope and we are urged to wait patiently for it in unseeing faith.

The Apostle further elaborates in Colossians 1:15-20:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:15-20).

So in both passages we see God’s purpose to redeem, restore, and reconcile “all things” to Himself is larger in scope than just personal salvation for human beings. In a broader sense, the mission of God in Christ is to reconcile everything back to Himself for His own glory. But how does this happen? By the cross and the shed blood of Jesus (Colossians 1:20). This is the means for God’s ultimate plan of restoration and reconciliation – the redemption of His children and the redemption of His creation. This is how He is doing His work. We don’t always see it but its progress is unthwarted by all the forces of evil and rebellion – all that we see that is so very wrong.
 
So what is our part in this mission? Clearly Christ’s followers are to engage every nook and cranny of our culture. But how? Some would argue that it is primarily through political and social activism – we should dedicate most of our efforts in cultural redemption by trying to change our world from the outside in. I would say otherwise. Although we are to be involved in all of His creation (and that includes social and political activism), I’m of the persuasion that most of our resources and energy should be committed to changing our culture from the inside out. Again, how? By the heralding of the cross and the power of His blood. By being conformed to Jesus’ image and communicating His Good News. I believe our primary calling is the living and proclaiming of the Gospel.

To state it in overly simple terms, we should be more concerned with seeing His creatures (people) transformed by the shed blood of Christ and the power of the cross than we are who is running for Congress. For in focusing on the advance of the Gospel and the building of His true spiritual kingdom (which Jesus said is “not of this world”) we will be most effective in doing our part in His redemption and reconciliation of “all things.”

So let’s be ambassadors for Jesus by engaging those outside of Christ, no matter their domain. If God is willing and enough receive His salvation and embrace the truths of His Word, Congress and culture will soon fall in line. In other words, let’s not keep it to ourselves but actively connect with our culture and watch to see how God works in redeeming and reconciling all things to Himself…for His own glory!


*Section 1 – Kingdom Character

Eight- The Peace of God’s Children 

 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

Matthew 5:9 proceeds logically from the previous beatitude. When purity of heart leads to internal peace, a peace-loving and peacemaking attitude arises. Those who allow the desire for peace to greatly influence their interactions, Christ explained, will be called “sons of God.” Our Creator set the world in motion with the desire that we live in harmony, enjoying relationship with Him and with others. These relationships were untainted by sin; but when humanity chose to disobey the Lord, we lost our peaceful fellowship with God. War and conflict and arguments with one another soon followed. We desperately needed intervention!

Jesus extended spiritual peace by reconciling us to God through His gospel: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Jesus], and through him
to reconcile to himself all [people] … making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20). The Apostle Paul further explains: “God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ … was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them (2 Corinthians 5:19). Through this plan, Jesus “create[d] in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace” for souls once torn by sin (Ephesians 2:15). He paved the way so that
humanity could catch a glimpse of His original plan: relationships, interactions, and lives should exist under the banner of harmony.

Military power represents an unfortunate need in our day, and Matthew 5:9 is not an antiwar cry. Instead, the passage points to an approach to life: Followers
of Christ—those who’ve accepted God’s gift of peace for their souls—must purvey peace in their families, communities, and among other believers as they serve
as ambassadors of the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Following the Prince of Peace should make us desire to live at peace. We can, in fact, demonstrate this
attribute to the world! Kingdom living requires that we be healers and not hurters. As we try to keep the peace and mend relationships, we foreshadow the
eternal peace of the eventual and ultimate culmination of our reign with Christ. Heaven’s atmosphere is one of ongoing and complete accord!

One day my friend Rick felt a stifling conviction that God wanted him to reconcile a broken relationship with a fellow church member. The two had not
spoken in over three years, and Rick could not even recall the real source of their conflict. In spite of this, he responded to the Spirit’s leading and sent a simple e-mail to his former friend. In it he asked for forgiveness for whatever he had done that did not reflect the love of Christ. To Rick’s amazement, the response was immediate: complete forgiveness and a return apology. As the two rekindled their friendship, word spread. Soon others throughout the church began mending their broken fences! Peace broke out! For Rick, the experience proved so liberating and empowering that he prayed that God would reveal others to whom he should reach out with humility and grace.

Unfortunately, the believer’s journey is not entirely without conflict. Sometimes following Jesus and adhering to His radical calling actually disturbs folks around us, even those closest to us (see Matthew 10:34-36). But living as one of Christ’s requires that we put Him first, follow His teachings, and often
make culturally difficult, radical, and sometimes misunderstood choices that may upset and confuse some people. Ironically, the contrarian nature of kingdom
living will inevitably result in conflict and perhaps even estrangement from those we love (see Matthew 10:37). That’s why, while we should never promote
unity at the expense of truth or sound doctrine, we must make sure that our words and actions are fueled by love and a genuine desire to please the Lord
and to help others come to know and grow in Him.

Peacemakers never intentionally seek conflict. They pursue peace unless it means contradicting God’s Word or will. The New Testament writers urge Christ-followers to question, Am I, as a disciple of this King of Peace, a nurturer of conciliation in my sphere of influence? Am I perceived by both believers and non-believers as peaceable? (see Hebrews 12:14). If the answer to either question is “no,” he or she may not live in full surrender to our peace-giving Lord. The internal peace from Him “passes all understanding.” That sense of inner harmony generally impacts relationships for the better.

In one of His most encouraging messages, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (John 14:27). Peacemaking and experiencing the blessing of living in peace demand complete reliance upon Him. He is our source. Let us demonstrate Jesus and His kingdom by being ministers of His gifts. By reflecting the Prince of Peace and His kingdom of eternal peace, we can point a troubled world to the God of reconciliation. Paul speaks to all kingdom believers when he says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace” (Colossians 3:15). As we do, we’ll shine as sons and daughters of God.

Apply It.

Read Hosea 3:1. Notice how God instructs Hosea to show conciliatory love to his  adulteress wife in the same manner the Father shows love to His rebellious
children. Consider a family, work, or church situation that generates ongoing  conflict in your life. What steps might you take to bring peace to the situation and demonstrate God’s love? Ask the Lord to reveal opportunities for  reconciliation. He will supply the wisdom and strength to initiate a  God-exalting solution.

 *This is an excerpt from Captivated by the King and His Kingdom: A Personal Encounter with the Sermon on the Mount published by Crossbooks in 2010. The links for this book are:

Amazon in book form – http://www.amazon.com/Captivated-King-His-Kingdom-Encounter/dp/1615073418/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302820767&sr=8-1    

Amazon Kindle – http://www.amazon.com/Captivated-King-His-Kingdom-ebook/dp/B004KAA9UC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=books&qid=1302820767&sr=8-2

Barnes and Noble in book form – http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Captivated-by-the-King-and-His-Kingdom/Linden-C-Wolfe/e/9781615073412/?itm=3&USRI=captivated+by+the+king

Other eReader formats – http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/33572

If you follow along with this category (albeit backwards) by the same name as the book, eventually, Lord willing, we will have walked through the Sermon on the Mount verse by verse in a devotional commentary approach. I pray that this series impacts you as much as it did me as I studied this passage and wrote this book. Grace to you!

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