Reconciliation: A World View
By Bob Edwards
During the upcoming Global Gathering in Anderson, Indiana, June 22–25, 2013, there will be many opportunities for us to dialogue and fellowship with our global Church of God family. Leading up to the first days of the main Global Gathering events will be a Global Forum that will take place in the Fellowship Hall of Park Place Church, Friday, June 21, from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, and Saturday morning, June 22, from 8:15 to noon. The seventy-three official international delegates from across the globe will form the body of this meeting, but they will be joined by others who will be observers during these sessions of discussion and prayer. Friday will be a discussion of the meaning of reconciliation for the church worldwide, followed by a Prayer Summit on Saturday.
Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung, professor of reconciliation studies at Bethel University, has written a paper, titled “Biblical Reconciliation: Reflections on the Doctrine and Practice,” that will be used to assist the group in the Friday discussion. This paper will soon be available on the Church of God website at www.chog.org/globalgathering for you to download and read. The paper has also been translated into Spanish.
There is great potency in the word reconciliation. The apostle Paul not only calls us ambassadors of Christ, but he moves further to say that our very ministry is that of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18). What might that mean? What do you believe Paul is pressing you to do as a reconciliation ambassador? Is this our task as missionaries? As believers? As members of the body of Christ? Is this responsibility limited to our local community, or do we have a larger, more global, obligation to bring about reconciliation? Globally, too many relationships are fraught with envy, division, hatred, greed, anger, one seeking power over the other, one wishing to break the other, and thick silence. This is where the love of Christ is needed most.
Every culture has need of this reconciliation in Christ Jesus. In his paper, DeYoung writes, “Can we find words that are useful in places divided by ethnicity, culture, gender, social class, politics, economics, war, and religion, such as Northern Ireland, Palestine/Israel, Sudan and South Sudan, Venezuela, Burma, Brazil, India, Zimbabwe, Cyprus, North and South Korea, and elsewhere—as well as in the cities, suburbs, and rural towns of the United States?” (Without a doubt, you can add your own adopted country to this list.) Look at it again. It is interesting to consider each of the situations and countries and reflect on what reconciliation might mean for the peoples of that situation and nation. Reconciliation is a great need in our world today. It encompasses the whole world—all of God’s children. For some it is a color issue; for others, a tribal divide; for others, an economic separation; and for others, a religious issue. Reconciliation is not easy. It requires a great deal of humility, courage, and a moving of the Spirit of God for it to happen. The results of true reconciliation are spectacular. It clears blockages to relationships; it cleans the hearts; and it places you into a right relationship with the Lord.
This is a great theme that those of you who are here for the Global Gathering will want to be a part of. Whether we are among the delegates or seated in the observers’ section, the discussion, I believe, will be of tremendous value to us all.
As we gather in Anderson around the theme of “Standing Together,” and as we return to the places to which God has called us to share his message of love and new life in Christ, let us be mindful of this:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God,who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed us to the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5. 17–20 NIV)