We Christians are fond of the word reconciliation. We often treat it like a cure-all pill or the easy button. The Greek word Paul uses in his two letters to Corinth is apokatallasso. It is used once in each letter and does literally mean be reconciled.
That phrase, be reconciled, is often repeated by us and too often thrown at non-Christians to win them over.
The problem is, we misuse the term more often than not. Reading Paul’s passage for today, we should quickly see that the reconciliation comes from God. Verse 18: And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. NLT
It is too easy to skip to the second part of this verse and assume that we are to now do the reconciling, we become agents of God and hand out the candy of reconciliation. That notion completely misses the message of Paul, not to mention that of Jesus.
Reconciliation is a technical term that should not be used with non-Christians simply because it carries such a load of meaning. Even Christians of long standing miss the point.
What is the point?
A man had two sons. One went away to feed the pigs and one stayed home to serve his father. Yet both were lost. The one returned from his wondering and asked to rejoin the family, but the other never saw the need and remained outside his father’s love, refusing to accept that free gift.
Both sons were separated from their father. Their father loved both, but only one accepted that love.
To be reconciled is to take what is given to us. The only thing I can do is accept that gift.
We humans like to make the simple difficult. We want to ensure that people jump through hoops to WIN God’s love. If you have not confessed your sins, been baptized, attended classes, told other people about God, then God will not love you.
At what point did the father love the prodigal son? The day he left the home, before he left even. The father did not love him any more or any less at any time in the story. Nor did he love the grumbling older son more or less.
God loves every man or woman in the ISIS camp just as much as He loves you or me. He longs to be reconciled to everyone of us, no matter our sins. We cannot afford to play the role of the older brother and blame God for loving people we don’t love.
Be righteous and do good.