… All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message 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 Corinthians 5:18-20)
Reconciliation is one of the most powerful theological concepts in the New Testament.
The word isn’t often used in everyday conversation anymore. The one context in which the word continues to pop up illustrates its meaning very nicely.
Sometimes, after a marriage has broken down, the couple patches up their differences and they move back into the same home. That’s when we dust off that half forgotten term, reconciliation.
Reconciliation occurs when people put conflict behind them. It occurs when separated people are reunited.
Associated terms include enmity, hostility, and peace.
… While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son …. (Romans 5:10)
For [Christ] himself is our peace, who has made us [Jews and Gentiles] one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. (Ephesians 2:14)
God was pleased … through [Christ] to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)
As you can see from the scriptures I’ve quoted, the concept, reconciliation, is at the very heart of the Gospel message. Enmity existed between God and us (and between Jews and Gentiles). Christ’s mission was to change enmity into peace.
The saddest chapter of American history is the shameful treatment of blacks by whites. The result: persistent conflict, division, enmity, hostility. Even civil war.
Now, a possible reconciliation. A chance to turn the page of history. In place of conflict, harmony. In place of enmity, peace. In place of division, unity.
Barack Obama isn’t just a symbol: he is a man of flesh and blood, and he will soon have an opportunity to govern. But, as America’s first black President, Obama is also a symbol.
Symbols sometimes matter. They can change the way that people perceive themselves and the society in which they live. At their most potent, symbols can actually alter the course of human events.
This election may mark the beginning of a great racial reconciliation. If so, that will be good news indeed for America.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.