In Spirit Blog

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” – 2 Cor 5:18

What is it really all about anyway, this gospel thing?  This good news.  This day of love, Valentine’s Day, is celebrated all over the world as a time for lovers to give each other decadent gifts of jewelry, flowers and chocolate (ooh how I love dark chocolate).  God so loved the world that he gave… for what purpose? To be reconciled with the beloved pinnacle of his creation… us.  You and me.  But what is the true meaning of reconciliation?

The Greek words translated as “reconciled” and “reconciliation” speak of returning to favour or being restored to a place in relationship where you now have the favour of someone with whom you previously did not have favour.  The other meaning implies restoring of balance or fairness as in a financial transaction that is settled justly between two parties.  So combining the two together, you are reconciled to someone when a just settlement has been reached and favour has been restored in the relationship.

How then did this occur between us and God?  How were we reconciled to him?  When we went through a process of recognizing our true condition (sin – separated from God), confessing Jesus sacrifice on our behalf for the errors of our previous direction (through Christ) and repenting (turned from our previous direction and walked in a new direction).  This resulted in the visible manifestation of the forgiveness from God through the simultaneous restoration of favour with him and a settlement of what we owe him (through Jesus paying our share).  Reconciliation. This is the intent of God’s desire for us.  It is the purpose of the expression of love.  Put another way, it is the why of love.

There are a myriad of things to discern about this which could be reflected upon.  However, what seems especially relevant in these times is that reconciliation is very much a process and that forgiveness and reconciliation are two very different things.  Our sins have been forgiven (past tense) but we are not reconciled until we go through a very deliberate process.  This is not only true of our relationship with God but also with each other.  Forgiveness is instantaneous.  Reconciliation is a process.  Many times Jesus said “Your sins are forgiven” (instant) – Mark 2:5, Luke 5:20, Luke 7:48  However, we are exhorted to “Be reconciled to God” (process) – 2 Cor 5:20

Unfortunately, in the current cultural emphasis of grace in the body of Christ there would appear to be much confusion about this distinction, especially between individuals.  There is often an assumption that when forgiveness (instant) occurs that reconciliation (process) also occurs.  How often have you heard “I said I was sorry if my xyz behaviour hurt you.  If you forgave me then our relationship should now be restored.”  What this individual is really saying is that they want to be back in favour with you and for all accounts to be settled without going through the reconciliation process.  This is not possible without each step being walked through and recognized by both parties:

3-Drinks

1. Recognition of the truth (our true condition before God or each other).

2. Confession of the truth (our true condition and previous behaviour)

3. Repentance (turning from our previous behaviour and walking in a new direction)

All of these steps will have fruit (visible evidence) which enables the process.  Without these steps there can be no reconciliation with God or between individuals.  Forgiveness – yes.  Reconciliation – no.

In a future blog we will further explore the meaning of reconciliation through examples from scripture to see this process in action.  For now, a toast to the three steps of reconciliation!

John and Katherine Matthews

Note: For more on the Windows of Reconciliation teaching see our previous blog and our friend Arthur Burk’s excellent teaching on this subject.

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Showing 7 comments
  • k.noel
    Reply

    At first thought, it makes me think of Hosea, a prophet who married a prostitute, named Gomer, at God’s command. She continuously left him over and over for other men, but he still loves her anyways and continues to forgive her. It parallels the relationship of God and Israel and their polytheistic gods. God the husband, Israel the wife. Likewise, even though the people of Israel worshiped other gods, God continued to love them and didn’t abandon his covanant with them. As Hosea searched for Gomer, he repeatedly found her and brought her back, not abandoning his marriage covenant; God would not abandon Israel and He brought them back even though they had forsaken him.

    To me this is the truest example of forgiveness.

    • B2E Group
      Reply

      Very powerful story for sure. However, some things to be aware of are that God specifically asked Hosea to marry a prostitute with the full knowledge of her moral depravity. The intent was that this be a prophetic picture of the true state of Israel and God’s continued love for them. Also, there was a very difficult and open process involving the complete public exposure of Gomer’s sin and eventually Hosea also calling out and exposing Israel’s depravity. The entire thing was an exceptional point in time for God to deliver a message through his prophet and not something that is necessarily applicable to wider application to other relationships (e.g. general friendship or marriage principles).

      • k.noel
        Reply

        I am not claiming this a wide practice. and I mentioned the symbolism in the action God was asking with, God and Israel and their gods etc I was just stating that this was a true example of forgiveness and how your post promoted the thought. Even though as I said God command him to do so, it still would be hard knowing where she has been and what she was doing over and over, regardless if I knew before. That would take a continued action of forgiveness, or at least for me it would. lol

        • B2E Group
          Reply

          For sure. Definitely regular forgiveness would have been necessary. See next blog for more on the connection between forgiveness and reconciliation.

  • Jessica Sanders
    Reply

    Wow…ok, lets go there…this is a deep, and full topic…in regard to God, and to people we love…many things come to mind; but the thing that comes to my heart most in reading, is my dad -(if you don’t want to get personal, stop reading now, because it’s about to get personal)-….those of you who know me, will know the story already…but for anyone reading that I’m not familiar with: ..my dad committed suicide when I was 15, after his extreme state of mental illness and mental/emotional abuse lasting half of my growing up years…..
    So, after all the years that we would have needed catastrophic reconciliation to mend, he dies…by his own hand…leaving us all with the damage of the years before, and the abandonment of the years to come…producing a myriad of new chapters in need of reconciliation (short story version).
    Forgiveness itself took a really long time, to be honest. -It took me years to even acknowledge that I needed to forgive my dad, and that I was angry with him for everything. -Reconciliation from an earthly standpoint is impossible…he is gone. He’s not here to reconcile with, or to make amends. He stepped out of the picture. -This leg of the journey, the reconciliation, is still unfolding, and growing…it’s been messy, ugly, extremely painful, and beautiful, and it’s come a long way…but it’s been, and continues to be a unique process of reconciling with my dad through the Holy Spirit….there have been divine healing dreams, where I got to speak with my dad in Heaven….and moments of remembering that he really did love us, and that his right mind was out of his control, it had been taken over by mental illness.
    I don’t have a clear finishing statement to wrap this up with…but that’s the deepest example from my own life.

    • B2E Group
      Reply

      Jessica, thanks for sharing something so near and precious to your heart. As someone who lost my father very early at 11 years old (very different circumstances), I can relate to the desire to connect while here on earth but not being able to. Glad to hear that you had some supernatural closure experiences (I did too). God is such a great father. In proxy for your earthly father I bless you with more…John

  • James Thomas Canali
    Reply

    This makes me wonder about the co-dependent tendencies, wanting to bring reconciliation to others, but at the cost of all our boundaries. I feel like the hard part of reconciliation is the waiting between the forgiveness and the acts of reconciliation. For me that transition is worship and love with God, he helps in the in-between places, hey that’s earth isn’t it?

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