Friday, January 27, 2006


Reconciliation - what a worthy goal! God has given it as a ministry to Christians - the focus of our portfolios as his ambassadors to the world. So says 2 Corinthians 5, or is that passage using an editorial "we," in which case, only the apostle Paul and his colleagues would be the reconciling ambassadors. Certainly the concepts apply to the apostle, but by extension to those he converted, and to Christians today. In a letter to his protege Timothy, he charged him to teach faithful men, who would teach others also. The chain of reconciliation extends beyond the original circle of disciples.
Reconciliation is hard! It means laying aside pride and pain caused by the past. Our passage discusses reconciliation to God, which falls in line with what Jesus said about loving God with all one's heart, soul, and strength. He called that the greatest command. But doing it God's way? I like the way I'm doing it now. Why should I change? I must change if I want to survive spiritually. That's a challenge - pushing out of the net formed by habit and laziness to break through to one who waits laughing with arms extended. The second command - loving one's neighbor as oneself - requires reconciliation also. Sometimes, that's even harder, when the rift spans months in a marriage, years in a family, decades in a church, or centuries in ethnic struggle. After all, we can't see God and we may tell ourselves we've reconciled to him when we really hope he's reconciled to the way we are. It's hard to hide when it's a person or a group standing in front of us, with fear, distrust, or even hate drowning us. Reaching out, risking rejection, knowing perhaps that reconciliation may not succeed, that sometimes physical or emotional survival requires taking different paths. And knowing, if we take separate paths, that a sense of something lost will endure, an awareness of a possible parallel universe in which sacrifice, dialogue, and negotiation produced reunion.
God has given us a ministry of reconciliation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Comforting God's People

Stress! In the midst of change, change, and more change, God's people call out for rest. Things change. That's a constant. But sometimes change damages, sends someone away, offends. Pray, search the word, remember the people for whom Christ died...and for whom there remains a rest.
Some people and churches change by the minute...Christian chameleons. Others refuse to change, call themselves trees planted firmly by the water, often deserve the designation "fossils." Perhaps the truth lies elsewhere, where people hear the Lord's voice in his word and hear also the plaintive cries of people clamoring for a message of hope they can their language, people longing for stability but needing also freshness. Comfort my people, says the Lord (Isaiah 40).