Towards a transformative ministry – Part 7

Etim Ekong

In our last reflection, we focused on social concern as an aspect of Christian Ministry. In this study, we are going to look at another aspect of the ministry called “Reconciliation” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Reconciliation has a twofold aspect namely, a Godward and a manward. In other words, we can say reconciliation must be both vertical and horizontal. Vertically, man reconciles with God and horizontally, man reconciles with fellow human beings.

Man needs to be reconciled to God, from whom he is naturally alienated in his mind in evil works (Col. 1:21-22). This shows that because we were alienated from God, we were strangers to His way of thinking and were “enemies” in our minds. A mind that is corrupted cannot seek reconciliation with fellow men. When a man is out of harmony with God, his natural condition is to be totally hostile to God’s standard.

According to Romans 8:7, the mind of the flesh (carnal mind) is enmity against God, and this enmity of the carnal heart needs to be overcome before we can enter into the ‘ministry of reconciliation,’ which is a beseeching of men to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20). When God brings us back to Himself, we can then become His ambassadors. Because we have been reconciled to God, we have the privilege of encouraging others to do the same, and we are thus those who have the “ministry of reconciliation.” Every believer should see himself or herself as Christ’s ambassador, sent with His message of reconciliation to the world.

Unless the variance between God and man is removed, there can be no reconciliation. Colossians 1:20-22 clearly shows how the removal of the variance is accomplished through the reconciling death of Christ. Likewise, the variance between man and man must be removed before the effect of reconciliation between man and man could be felt. Peace can only be “made by the removal of the variance on both sides.” This variance could be hatred. In this age of proliferation of Churches, with no love among brethren, how can we embark on the ministry of reconciliation? It is pertinent to note that, “the interaction of Jews and Gentiles is one of the main themes of the passion Narrative.”

The Jews and the Gentiles were hostile to one another, yet their need of each other to take responsibility for the rejection of Christ. Through love, which is another ingredient of reconciliation, the penalty of sin and its power over both the Jews and Gentiles were miraculously destroyed by Christ on the cross. Through faith in Christ, we stand acquitted, or not guilty, before God (Rom. 3:21-22). Today, we are united in Jesus’ powerful victory over death. We are empowered to go into the ministry of reconciliation.

In our fractured world, the Church should give priority attention to the ministry of reconciliation. It is only through this ministry that we can overcome violence. We should know that “the overcoming of violence is usually associated with Christ’s atonement.” As kirk (2009:pg.8) rightly notes, “Justice, as the major political and social objective in situations of hostility and warfare, has been the overriding concern of Christians.” We must note that the main cause of conflicts is the abuse of people’s rights by ruthless political groups. The implication here is that violence can only be put to an end, when the justice of people’s grievances has been recognised and addressed. This is the time for the Church to make her voice heard and to pursue vigorously the ministry of reconciliation.
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In this article:
Etim Ekong
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