We are in another New Year. And almost always, we make New Year’s resolutions. We talk about doing something new, being something new, beginning anew, approaching life in a new way. We can find some help with all this in Holy Scripture.
In II Corinthians 5:16-21 (NIV), there is an intriguing, inspiring passage of scripture worthy of our careful consideration as we begin 2018: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he had committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
If we want a New Year’s resolution, if we want to do something new, if we want to be something new, then be reconciled to God through Christ. Take up the ministry of reconciliation. Be Christ’s ambassadors for reconciliation.
If there’s one thing this world needs today, it’s reconciliation. But first, we must be reconciled to God. Then our own ministry of reconciliation can move forward. Sometimes, in our haste to be reconciled and reconcilers, we put the cart before the horse. We try to begin our ministry of reconciliation before we are reconciled to God. And we may forget that we are reconciled to God, not on our own, but through Christ. As Paul reminds us, Christ died for us and through his death, we are reconciled to God. That is an essential part of our faith. But we are also reconciled to God by being like Christ, as much as possible. How can we be like Christ? The gospels provide plenty of help in letting us know. Recognizing that being like Christ leads us to reconciliation to God, it also provides a path to being reconciled to other people. Read the gospels again and again as a reminder of what Christ was like and then become like him.
Being reconciled to God through Christ is a continuing process. If we are to be God’s ministers of reconciliation, we should start each new day with a prayer of reconciliation, asking God to keep us close and to help us help others be reconciled to him and our fellow humans.
How “new” could this year be if all believers became ministers of reconciliation! Remember what Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5. Through reconciliation, God doesn’t count people’s sins against them! Through our reconciliation with God and our salvation through Christ, we become the righteousness of God! As we think about another New Year, let’s allow all this to sink in!