Slideshow image

What does it mean to be reconciled? 

Simply put, to be reconciled means "to bring two or more parties together in agreement." To reconcile with someone is to be restored to a position of harmony with them.

Reconciliation has both a vertical and horizontal aspect - which are illustrated by the two parts of The Cross.  Both aspects are present in the following passages:

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NRSV) – "18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us."

Ephesians 2:11-22 (NRSV) – "11 So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God."

Reconciliation is the act of bringing into agreement or harmony; it is the process of putting things right again. In 2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2 St. Paul uses reconciliation as a key metaphor for making known the ministry of reconciliation. In this text we learn that it is God who has taken the initiative in reconciling us to himself (5:19) through the death of Jesus on the cross (5:21). As a result, we become agents/ministers of this reconciliation as we call others to be reconciled to God (5:20).

God's objective in reconciling us to himself is that we would experience harmony with him, with one another and even with all of creation (5:18-19) (Book of Common Prayer pg. 849). In addition, St. Paul says that we are called upon by God to work together with him in this effort by pleading for those who are still estranged from God (5:20).

To further help us understand reconciliation, Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-23.  Here we have a young man who demanded his inheritance while his father was sill living.  He then promply moved out, and wasted everything he had on frivolous living.  When the money was gone, he tried to earn a living working on a pig farm, to no avail.  The job couldn't pay his bills, and he was starving.  Ashamed, he went back to his father, working up a speech the whole way.  "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Please treat me as one of your hired servants."  But before he could get the words out, his father embraced him, weeping and kissing him.  His father was overjoyed to be reconciled with his son.  Their relationship was restored.


Definition of Reconciled

The word reconciliation literally means to change from enmity (hate) to friendship. But the concept of reconciliation is not confined simply to a change in human relationships. You see, God created the world as a place of harmony and relationship, both between people and between humanity and creation. When sin entered the world, it brought destruction, separation between God and man, and separation between people. This destruction led to division, enmity and a lack of harmony among all of creation.

So St. Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 carry a lot more meaning than they might appear at first glance: "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."

God is reconciling all of creation to Himself through the work of Jesus on the cross. He has begun a process that will ultimately restore harmony between Himself and His creation. This includes restoring harmony among people.

Reconciliation is an active process, one that brings separate parties together.  The vertical dimensions involve harmony between God and human beings.  The horizontal dimensions involve harmony between people, and harmony between people and creation.  It is a wholistic ministry that God still brings about to this day.  Everything we do as Christians is meant to participate in this process of reconciliation.

To continue your journey, be sure to join us on Sunday Mornings at either 8:00 or 10:30.