A MINISTRY OF RECONCILATION
Sunday School Lesson
2 Corinthians 5:1-17
“IF I KNEW THE CARES AND SORROWS
CROWDED ROUND OUR NEIGHBOR’S WAY,
IF WE KNEW THE LITTLE LOSSES,
SORELY GRIEVOUS, DAY BY DAY,
WOULD WE THEN SO OFTEN CHIDE HIM
FOR THE LACK OF THRIFT AND GAIN,
LEAVING ON HIS HEART A SHADOW
LEAVING ON OUR HEARTS A STAIN?”
MARTHA PERRY HOWE
Is there anything more painful than a broken friendship? On the other hand, is there anything more joyous than a friendship restored after an estrangement?
In the early
1700s a young English clergyman named John Wesley came as a missionary to the
American colony of
God reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. How is your ministry doing? How is my ministry fairing? Please, Lord, draw us together, both friend and foe.
Within the church there is a great need for reconciliation. We disagree over so many silly things. One church had a great dispute over the color of the bathroom walls. It seems that the youth wanted to do a kind deed for the older women by fixing up the bathroom. The only problem was that the youth painted the walls purple. When the older women saw what they had done, there was a loud outcry from the ladies. Both sides pouted and one old “saint” was overheard to say that children ought not to meddle in the affairs of the church. Conflict often invades the church. So there is much need for people within the Body of Christ to demonstrate the power of forgiveness.
If we pray as David prayed, “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy loving-kindness; according to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions,” then we would be able to forgive others for their transgressions. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see this happening all around us?
Paul is pleading for us all to live for others and not for ourselves. When to see others, we are to see them as those for whom Christ died. This makes us representatives for Christ. God is making his appeal through us. This sounds so good on paper, but when I come in contact this with people who are living lives contrary to the teaching of the Bible, I find myself behaving in rude ways. If I lived in a cloistered cell, I would be so holy, but, alas, I live in the real world where people do not talk and act in ways that please me.
I am thinking now of a person that offended me just a few days ago. The thought came to me as I looked at him, “Would I be willing to take him to a restaurant for a meal?” Would my humiliation be so great that it would be impossible to be seen with him?
Our lesson asked this question, “When have you found it difficult to love a particular person or group of people?”
Gertrude Behanna is mentioned in the lesson as person who found it hard to love the unlovely. She looked down her nose at a poor woman riding a bicycle. Gert, as she was known, came under conviction. What right had she, always pampered, to look unkindly on anyone? She writes, “I was bent with shame.” David in the 51st Psalms writes, “God, create a clean heart in me, put into me a new and constant spirit, do not banish me from your presence, do not deprive me of your holy spirit.”
How good of God to provide a way
for us to be reconciled to Himself. God
made His own Son “to be sin” that He might make the sinner into a saint. The Bible clearly states that Jesus took upon
Himself the sin of the world. He
deliberately took upon His own body, endured in His own body, the sin, not only
of those who lived then, but all people who had ever lived or those who would
live in the future. He, who knew no sin,
became sin for us. Because of what
When I think that Christ died for me, a sinner, how can I not forgive others when they offend me? I can forgive if I keep my eyes on the cross, but the problem is that I take my eyes off the sacrifice that Christ made for my salvation. Every day we deal with people who put a strain on our Christ-like walk. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we overcome our inclination to be rude or unkind to those who bother us. Daily the challenge comes to us all to pray, “O Christ I cannot do without you, I have no goodness of my own, but Thou O blessed Savior, my all in all, you are my perfect strength. You give me what I need when I give you my weakness; help me this day to battle through my moods, feelings and emotions into goodness that comes from you.”
Fresh every morning is His mercy. I don’t need justice, I need mercy. If I got what I deserved, I would be in serious trouble. The beauty of the Christian walk is that every morning we can walk in newness of life because we are in Him and He is in us. Yesterday is gone and all we have is today. What will we do with this gift? Will I represent Christ in such a way that those around me will want to know Him better or will I behave in such a way that those observing me will wonder if I am really a Christian. What a great potential we have to accept what Christ has to offer and to make this day glorious.
“God give me something very sweet to
be mine own this day:
A precious opportunity a word for Christ
- William Wordsworth