Called to the Ministry of Reconciliation
Our sacred responsibility
By Ted N. C. Wilson
As we come to the end of another year this is the time many Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Christ. It is good for us to remember the great sacrifice Jesus made in coming to this earth, and I would like to invite you to take a few moments as together we consider the greatest gift ever given—Jesus Christ.
We read in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
What a promise-packed verse this is! God was in Christ reconciling us to Himself. Here we have an amazing picture of the plan of salvation—a picture of a God who takes the initiative to restore the relationship that He once had with human beings, a loss keenly felt when humankind chose to separate themselves from their Creator.
Imagine that night so long ago in the hillside town of Bethlehem. A baby is born: not in a comfortable bed, but in a barn—a stable, surrounded by creatures He Himself designed. Lying there in the manger, He appears to be just another infant born into the humble life of a small Jewish family. Yet amazingly, He is both fully human and fully divine.
We see God in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself through the helplessness of an infant; through the innocence of a child; by the faithfulness of a young carpenter; through the compassion of a great healer; in the wisdom of a respected teacher; and through the humility of an innocent man turning the other cheek. We see Him on the cross, arms outstretched, seeking to reconcile the world to Himself.
He came to a world that despised and rejected Him; a world in which “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). What kind of God is this, who seeks to save the lost, who loves His enemies, who remains quiet in the face of fearsome attacks?
It is through His Word that we find the keys to reconciliation with one another.
This is a God who seeks reconciliation with us. That’s what He wants—more than anything. He longs for us to be with Him—not only in the future, but now.
His work of reconciliation did not end at the cross—it continues still, as He serves as our high priest in the heavenly sanctuary, ministering in the Holy of Holies, pleading His blood on our behalf.
Christ is actively participating in this important ministry right now. How wonderful it is to know that the God of the universe, who was willing to humble Himself and come to this world, where He experienced our trials and sorrows, is the same Jesus who is now our advocate and high priest ministering for us in a real heavenly sanctuary.
We read in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” How wonderful it is that our Savior understands us completely. And perhaps that’s why He prayed 2,000 years ago, not only for His disciples, but also for us when He asked His Father to “keep through Your name those whom You have given me, that they may be one as We are” (John 17:11).
Keys to Reconciliation
Jesus realized that there was a need not only for us to be reconciled to Him, but that reconciliation would not be complete unless we are also reconciled to each other. This is why He has given to us “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). We are all called to this special ministry, and God has empowered us through His “word of reconciliation” (verse 19), that is, the Bible. It is through His Word that we find the keys to reconciliation with one another—confession, forgiveness, hope, and healing. Whatever difficulties, disputes, and frustrations we are now facing, the Lord has made a way for reconciliation, for unity among His believers.
His humble yet focused life, His selfless ministry to others, His amazing sacrifice, are examples for us, encouraging us to set aside anything that keeps us from being reconciled to Him and to each other.
New Every Day
What amazing love Christ has shown to us, and what a wonderful time this is to remember His birth and gift of reconciliation. But while the warmth of the season may embrace us today, how will things be in January—after the celebrations have ended, after the new year has begun? Jesus tells us, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5), and that miracle of re-creation, of reconciliation, is not limited to seasons. It is a free gift, offered to us each day. “The Lord’s mercies” “are new every morning,” wrote the prophet Jeremiah. “Great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22, 23).
How can we make certain that the reconciliation Christ offers is a real, 24/7, all-year-long experience for each of us? By being connected to Him through His “word of reconciliation,” the Bible; and by building a relationship with Him in prayer. As we take the time to read and study His Word, we will become more acquainted with His ways. And as we follow His example, we will become more like Him, taking on the ministry of reconciliation.
Just as prophecy made clear when the time of Christ’s first advent was near, we can, through the sure word of prophecy found in the books of Daniel and Revelation, know that the time of His second coming is almost here. The prophecies of these books trace with precision events that were centuries away when these prophecies were written.
Looking Forward With Hope
Now, in 2012, as we look back at how those prophecies were fulfilled at precisely the right time, we can look forward with great hope and assurance that fulfillment of the few remaining prophecies is very near. If you need that hope and assurance, I encourage you to study these prophecies, and read Ellen White’s book The Great Hope. It will amaze and inspire you. For a free downloadable copy of this book in English, Spanish, French, or Portuguese, along with a study guide, visit www.thegreathope.org. For other languages, visit https://egwwritings.org and search for the book The Great Controversy.
United in Him
Even though more than 2,000 years have passed since Jesus walked the dusty roads of Palestine, not much has really changed on this earth. Nations still oppress other nations. Young and old still get sick and die. Crime still plagues the planet. People still push for favorable positions. Friends, enemies, loved ones, still quarrel. Yet God is the same today as He was yesterday. He is still in Christ, reaching His hand out in reconciliation, healing wounds, making people whole, offering each of us the opportunity to be united together in Him.
And one day very soon angels will again appear in the sky, as they did so long ago above the hills of Bethlehem—this time not to herald the birth of the babe, but to accompany the King in His glory, coming to take His people home.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.