Sunday, August 24, 2014

Encouraged to Reconcile

Here is another Scripture text that encourages me. I hope it will also encourage you.

 “. . . . God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them . . . Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:19-21)

From conversations I’ve had over the years, I think many people have a distorted view of God – and for good reason. Sometimes the sermons we hear, or the books we read, or the conversations we have – even with some clergy – can lead us to think of God only as a Supreme “no-nonsense” taskmaster. We create a picture in our minds of Him standing impatiently at the edge of heaven, whip in His right hand, an unblinking and piercing gaze scouring the earth, just waiting for us to screw up. And when we do, He zealously fires off lightning bolts of judgment to smite us with illness, accident, or some other dreaded punishment for our sin.

Scripture, however, presents a totally different view of God. Certainly judgment awaits the hardened, persistent, and arrogant rebel who refuses to bow the knee to the Creator. St. Paul warned his readers a few verses earlier in this same chapter of 2 Corinthians: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for ]his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men . . . . (verses 10-11).

Yes, each of us will stand – one by one – before God’s judgment seat. That image alone should create a reasonable measure of fear within everyone. But for the penitent – and this is important – for the penitent, even for the one who stumbles into and out of sin time and again, for the truly penitent, God reserves only mercy.

Here again is what the Holy Spirit tells us through St. Paul: “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Did you see that word, ‘appeal'? The Greek word Paul used, epikaleō, carries with it the idea of pleading, beseeching, or exhorting.

Yes, God stands at the edge of heaven, but not impatiently waiting for us to blow it. Rather, He stands with His arms open, pleading with us, beseeching us, exhorting us, “Come, let’s reason together. Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.*

“Come,” He invites again and again . . . and then again, “Repent. Be reconciled with Me and turn from the things you know are wrong. They will only hurt you and those you love in the end.”

And so, knowing of God’s great mercy, why does anyone still choose to not be reconciled with Him who loves each of us so much that He offered His son to die in our place?

*Isaiah 1:18


Lagniappe said...

Just a note to encourage you as you ponder things to encourage us. 2 Cor 5 is one of my favorite passages for it not only displays God's everlasting love by not counting our sins against us for the Lord Jesus Christ has propitiated our Holy Father. Moreover, Col 2:13-14 reinforces the degree by which salvation for us is even possible, "And you who were dead...God made alive together with him [Jesus]...." [ESV emphasis mine].

We are reconciled and now we are to carry the good news so that men everywhere may know the redemptive love of our God. Mercy and grace are not cheap trinkets which, your first paragraph, brought back memories of Springfield and their oft spoken shallow message to fill their chameleon churches.

Press on my Brother and may the truth of Psalm 67 remain upon you - Deus Misereatur!!!! Be well

Rich Maffeo said...

chameleon churches -- nice word picture. And I 'do' thank you for your words of encouragement. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is listening ;-) Your comment helps me keep pressing on.


Barb Schoeneberger said...

Reading Connie Rossini's latest book on St. Therese of Lisieux, "Trusting in God with St. Therese" would be really helpful to forming an attitude of reconciliation with Jesus. Of course God is perfect justice, but before that He is perfect mercy as we see from the passage of the woman taken in adultery. If we adopt the childlike heart as St. Therese did, we have nothing to worry about.

Rich Maffeo said...

Barb, I am grinning at your comment: If we adopt the childlike heart as St. Therese did, we have nothing to worry about.

I wonder if I will ever attain that.