He was called by one reporter, “a walking billboard for reconciliation.”
Douglas “Pete” Peterson served as a U. S. Air Force captain during the Vietnam War and was shot down during a bombing raid near Hanoi in 1966. For six and a half years he was held as a prisoner of war. He was humiliated. Beaten. Abused.
Yet, Peterson returned 22 years later after the fall of Saigon to become the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Peterson choose to return to Vietnam to make a difference in the lives of children. He realized that God saved his life as a POW, not to live in anger, bitterness and retribution, but to find peace, harmony and restoration.
Our word of the week is “reconciliation.”
The world today is in dire need of reconciliation. Ruptured relationships need reconciliation. Broken homes and marriages cry for reconciliation. Opposing political factions could benefit from reconciliation. But most of all people need to be reconciled with God.
The apostle Paul’s ministry and message was one of reconciliation. To the Corinthians he issued this entreaty. “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:18-20)
To be reconciled is “to change from enmity to friendship,” writes W. E. Vine. “With regard to the relationship between God and man, the use of this and connected words shows that primarily “reconciliation” is what God accomplishes, exercising His grace towards sinful man on the ground of the death of Christ in propitiatory sacrifice under the judgment due to sin.”
Paul expressed it this way in Romans 5:8-11. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
While the concept of reconciliation is pregnant with deep theological implications, there are some simple things that have practical application to our lives.
(1) All have sinned. Every accountable person has violated the law of God. None can boast sinless perfection. As the Bible says, “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).
(2) Sin separates us from God. God is holy. Sinless. Perfect. Thus, sinful mankind is not worthy to dwell in His presence. Our transgressions have estranged us from the Holy One. Sin alienates us from God. And makes us His enemies. (Isa 59:1-2; Eph. 2:1-10).
(3) By the grace of God the means of reconciliation has been provided. Our Creator seeks communion and community with the human race. He desires that we be in a covenant relationship with Him. So by his grace, mercy and love He provided a means for us to be reconciled to Him.
(4) Reconciliation is realized in the cross of Christ. Jesus died so our fellowship with God could be restored. The cross brought into being the means of reconciliation. Through the blood of the sinless Savior we can be cleansed from sin. (Col 1:19-20).
(5) The Gospel reveals God’s plan for reconciliation. We cannot be reunited with God on our own terms. Or by our own methods. He sets the conditions. And has already determined the means by which we can receive redemption. (Mk. 16:15-16; Ax 2:38; Rom. 6:1-6).
(6) Peace is the product of reconciliation. When our union with God is restored, we enjoy spiritual tranquility. We can find peace with God, peace with our fellow man, and inner peace. Indeed all is right with the world.
You don’t have to be estranged from God or bereft of His blessings. The gospel call continues. “Be reconciled to God.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman