“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Godself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ…”
(2 Corinthians 5:17-20a)
Throughout the season of Lent, a small group has been meeting to discuss the Confession of 1967 and the Belhar Confession, in both their historical context and their meaning for us in the church today. One of the things I appreciate most about these two confessions is their unflinching stance against all forms of discrimination and injustice, and the church’s responsibility to resist injustice wherever we encounter it. When we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, it means that all earthly powers and principalities are secondary to Christ’s power in our lives.
The predominant theme through both confessions is reconciliation, both in terms of God’s saving act of reconciliation through Christ’s death and resurrection, and in terms of how we are to be ambassadors of reconciliation in the world. The word, reconciliation, can be defined as 1.) the restoration of friendly relations following a disagreement or 2.) the act of making one view or belief compatible with another. It feels quite relevant to our present moment in history to be discussing reconciliation.
At a time when many of us have a hard time discussing opposing points of view, even with some members of our own family or circle of friends, it is important to remember that we have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, as we read in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. We are ambassadors for Christ, and that is an incredible responsibility. The Confession of 1967 states “The members of the church are emissaries of peace and seek the good of all in cooperation with powers and authorities in politics, culture, and economics. But they have to fight against pretensions and injustices when these same powers endanger human welfare. Their strength is in their confidence that God’s purpose rather than human schemes will finally prevail.” (C ’67, 9.25)
Acknowledging that we may have differences in how we respond to the social, political, and economic issues of this present moment in history, we must also ask ourselves how we can be ambassadors of Christ’s ministry of reconciliation in and for the world. Not just for those who think as we do, who agree with us on the issues we think are most important, or who share our same belief system; but even with those from whom we feel most distant or divided, by ideology, religion, race, or socio-economic circumstance. As we prepare to walk with Jesus down that road to the cross once more, let us remember that it is through Christ’s sacrificial love that we find wholeness, and are empowered to be agents of God’s reconciling love in the world.