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love

Minister of Reconciliation

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

We were all estranged from God at some point in our lives. We did things that hurt him and offended him. But while we were in that estranged and sinful state, Jesus came to earth and died for us so we could be reconciled to him. To reconcile means, “to restore friendly relations between.” God, out of love, did what had to be done—what we could not do for ourselves—to restore friendly relations between us and him.

The magnitude of the love that saved us is beyond our imaginations. We couldn’t earn it. We didn’t deserve it. But God is relational. He actually IS love. So he sacrificed for us. He paid the price for us. He forgave us.

Now that we’ve been extravagantly loved and generously reconciled, he has placed us in the Ministry of Reconciliation. England has a Ministry of Defense, a Ministry of Housing, and a Ministry of Justice. God has a Ministry of Reconciliation. And we all have been appointed to a position there.

We are to reconcile ourselves to others, point people to reconciliation with God, and help other people be reconciled with each other. “Minister of Reconciliation”—that’s our calling. That’s our job. Every one of us.

A Minister of Reconciliation has this job description: Love God. Love people. Every person. All the time. That’s it. That’s why we’re here. You want to know what your purpose is? It’s simple: Love God. Love people. Every person. All the time. Making a living, the work you do at church, raising your family? That’s all just settings and vehicles to love God and love people—every person, all the time.

Our job on this earth is to share love with others, to be more and more loving every day, because God is love and we’re in the process of becoming more and more like God.

Here’s a word from Ephesians 5:1, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”

If we want to sum up what it means to be a Minister of Reconciliation, it’s right there in Ephesians 5:1. Not cautious love, but extravagant. Not to get something from someone, but to give everything to others. It says that, mostly, what God does is love us. Mostly, what we should be doing is loving God and loving others, with a generous, brave, God-given love. Every person. Every day. With everything we have.

Father God, your love is absolutely incredible. I can hardly fathom it. When I couldn’t help myself, your love pursued me and rescued me. I love you, Lord. Continuously fill my heart with your love so I can give it away to others. Let me be your ambassador and an enthusiastic minister of reconciliation. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

“Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ…” (2 John 1:3)

Some things just seem to go together. Peanut butter and jelly. Macaroni and cheese. Grace and mercy.

Grace and mercy are like heads and tails—two sides of the same coin. Grace is receiving a blessing we did not deserve. Mercy is deserving a punishment, but not receiving it. When we were saved, our sins were forgiven. We deserved punishment, but instead received mercy. Also, when we were saved, we became a child of God, joint heirs with Jesus, and were given eternal life—which we in no way deserved but received by grace.

We certainly enjoy receiving grace and mercy for ourselves, but sometimes we find it hard to extend grace and mercy to others.

David found himself in just that situation in 1 Samuel, chapter 24. As you may remember, Saul was on a blood-thirsty quest to murder David. One day, Saul went into a cave to “relieve himself.” In a weird coincidence, David and his men were hiding in that very same cave.

When David’s men saw Saul in the cave, they urged David to kill Saul, saying this chance to defeat his enemy was an opportunity sent from God.

Put yourself in David’s shoes for just a minute. David knew Saul would certainly kill him if given a chance. Surely, justice would permit him to kill Saul. Surely, Saul deserved it. But David didn’t do it. Instead of justice, David extended mercy.

David cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. As Saul left the cave, David shouted for Saul, and bowed before him. In this vulnerable position, David showed Saul the piece of cloth cut from his robe. Saul realized David could have killed him…but didn’t. Saul began to cry and thanked David for his kindness. Saul asked David not to kill his family when David became king, and David extended grace by agreeing to his request.

Reconciliation flows out of mercy and grace.

Our sense of justice sometimes blocks our expression of grace and mercy. We sometimes think, “serves them right,” or, “I can’t believe they did that.” We treat people harshly when we only look at what they deserve. Justice may scream for retaliation, but grace and mercy remind us the many times we were given something much different than what we deserved.

When tempted to hold a grudge, write someone off, or think less of someone because of their actions, stop and listen to grace and mercy. Remember how we were forgiven, our debt paid, and our soul saved when we were totally undeserving. God treats us with grace and mercy. Let’s demonstrate his character by showing grace and mercy to others.

Father God, Thank you for grace and mercy. You saw me when I was lost, forgave my sins, and gave me your peace. I was so undeserving. Thank you for not giving me what I deserved, but instead giving me grace and mercy. Help me remember to treat others the same way—not necessarily what they deserve, but what grace and mercy demands. Let me live in a way that shows your character to a lost world that they may come to know you. In Jesus’s name, amen.