"I praise God for Reconciliation and Restoration!"
i remember this as my opening statement to my Christ family at Gateway Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, back in 2008. I witnessed God show Himself strong and true as He moved me into relationships that I would never have entered, with people I once considered enemies.
Wow! Montgomery, Alabama... The history of the place.
I witnessed God show Himself strong and true as we moved through the history of the election of this nations first Black President. Our faith tested and proven, we moved on as a Christ family. These words of scripture came alive to me.
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
New Living Translation (NLT)
We Are God's Ambassadors
11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.14 Either way, Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
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. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
The Beginning of My reconciliation Ministry
It started long before I reached Montgomery, ALabama and spent a little under a year building with Gateway Baptist Church.But that's when I started to actually see what God was doing to me, with me and through me in this area of reconciliation. I was formally introduced to the sub-topic of "Racial reconciliation" in an academic sense, through seminay studies. I had been walking in the ministry of reconciliation for some time, but
The RE Framework
Through Hid Spirit, God teaches me using "frameworks" that help me memorize and internalize what He wants me to know. The RE framework is just the way that i remember that:
IF We REPENT, Then
God RECONCILES us to Himself and
We RECONCILE one to another and
I call it the "RE" framework because The Spirit prompted me to lookup and study the prefix "RE" and pay attention to all of the ways it is used when discussing theological concepts."The Power of RE", is what I ended up thinking. But that's another post.
God REVEALS. Our God is the REVEALING God. He never stops revealing Himself, what's in us and what's around us. The faith walk journey of this part of life is where we experience God's revelation.
We RESPOND. We RECEIVE or REJECT God's revelation. Either way, we respond. There is no middle ground.
Repentance is Required
I like the way Pastor Eric Mason said it in his "A Culture of Repentance" talk...
"That's my prayer tonight. That we don't stop at racial reconciliation, but we take the umbrella and open it more widely. The umbrella of repentance…Because there can be no reconciliation without repentance. Reconciliation without repentance is phoniness, but reconciliation with repentance is beautiful gospel restoration."
Restoration is Conditional
2 Chronicles 7:14
New International Version (NIV)
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
When a culture of repentance spreads through all local assemblies of the body of Chist, we will experience God's Restoration. We must not forget that god's Restoration is conditional. IF we REPENT, Then God RECONCILES and RESTORES. If we REJECT God, The God REJECTS us.
This is not to say that God is not restoring now. God is true to His Word and He is doing exactly what He said. I testify to the truth of this.