In times to come, Jacob will take root,Isaiah 27:6 ISV
and Israel will blossom, sprout shoots,
and fill the whole world with fruit.
All of this comes from God, who has reconciled us to himself through the Messiah and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,2 Corinthians 5:18 ISV
Reconciliation: the action of reconciling and/or the state of being reconciled.
1a) to restore to friendship or harmony
1b) settle or resolve (differences)
2) to make consistent or congruous
3) to cause to submit to or accept something unpleasant.
4a) to check (a financial record) against another for accuracy
4b) to account for
The (or God’s) fruit of reconciliation should fill the whole world, and we are to be the fruit.
Depending how many sermons you’ve listened to, it is likely that you have heard at least one sermon about the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This list comes from Paul’s letter to the Galatians (Galatians 5:22-23). Depending on the preacher or author, it could be an unordered list, or an ordered list. These fruit, though, are supposed to be increasing in each Christian day-by-day.
Isaiah’s words are, in particular, about the people of Israel (God’s first chosen people). The concept was that despite their trials, exiles, and spiritual (and physical) wandering, that God would cause them to be plentiful and to fill the earth. Over the years, many Christians have believed (and even preached) that Christians completely replaced the descendants of Israel as the new chosen. Today, most Christians don’t believe that. On the other hand, Christians are spiritual descendants of Israel (through Jesus), so should be accounted for as fruit of the promise in Isaiah.
Yet, if we look around, we can see that Christians are as likely to be reconciling as anyone else. In other words, we Christians appear to be just as unloving and unreconciling as those who do not believe in Jesus. Paul notes that Christians are particularly called to the ministry of reconciliation. While, yes, much of that does have to do with being in a reconciled (or “right”) relationship with God, this does not exclude or diminish the call on the Christian to be a reconciling force in their family, community, and the world.
Re-examine the definitions of reconciling. Except for definition 4a, one could actually apply each definition to the life a Christian is to exemplify. 4a would occupy a special place that is that of the price of sin paid, and thus has a place in (or origin for) the conversation of reconciling.
In the Greek language, there is an imperfect tense, which doesn’t (sadly) exist in English, though reconciling comes close per the Merriam-Webster definition, especially when we say reconciliation is the action of reconciling (the mission or ministry) and being reconciled, which was done through Jesus Christ’s birth, life, death on the cross, and resurrection. It is done, and yet there is more work to be done.
Of the five (1a, 1b, 2, 3, 4b) definitions, which do you see as the strongest in your life? How do you see each of these working through your life?
What is an act (or series of acts) of reconciliation that you can do in your family and community?
Father God, you have given us the ministry of reconciliation. Help us not to forget that by giving it to us, you have given us responsibility. Help us to remember that through this responsibility you have given us the honor of working alongside you, the Creator, in the world. Jesus, help us to continually examine your life as conveyed in the Scriptures to understand what it means to live a life of reconciliation. Holy Spirit, just as you provide each of us “fruit of the Spirit”, so, too, do you provide the ability to be aware of where the world needs reconciliation. Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), guide us more deeply into your truth to be the light of reconciliation and the people of love to the world. Amen.