We need to consider the deeper earthly implications of God's reconciliation with men and women for 3 reasons:
1. We are so broken within us
Again and again, as I sit listening to some Christians as they pour out their heart cries, are weighed down by the burden of guilt, anger, confusion and deep anguish, I ask the question:
"Father, don't they know Your favour upon them? Are they not Your beloved children in Jesus Christ? Have not You saved them from their sins? Why then are they still feeling like that, as if all around them are enemies...and they cannot even talk to You because they are so mad with You?"
One of the ways He answered was by taking me through a crisis....
Two years ago, being hit by some misunderstanding from a brother in Christ, I experienced a similar unwelcome 3 months of intense tension as I knew that I was not guilty of some false accusations flung at me from an unexpected angle...yet, my heart felt guilty to the extent that my joints became arthritic. My spirit, soul and body were all affected by one working relationship conflict. There came a point where I had nothing to cling on to but the word of God till the matter was cleared up.
Why did that happen to me? I believe it was partly due to my own unhealed, un-reconciled self between my body, soul and spirit that led to my wrong fears of others and an inability to feel the freedom of a cleansed conscience before God.
So, this is an area which we want to discuss as we consider the good news of God's reconciliation with world. We want to consider what God's reconciliation with us actually means horizontally....between our spirit, soul and body, between one another in the family of God, and between the environment and us. Yes, there is more work to be done in and by us before we are ready for the Bridegroom. Paul in Philippians 2:12 urges us to work out the salvation that God has worked in us with fear and trembling. Indeed, in a counselling situation, to feel the trembling and fear of someone alienated from God, others and self emotionally and mentally is a very real thing as together...God, pastoral counsellor and counsellee...walk in His path to a more healed and reconciled new man or woman in Christ. As long as we are in the truth and grace of God, such trembling and fear is good for us, for they tend to shake the rubbish out of us and enable us to realise that, actually, God is Lord and we are not.
This process of inner reconciliation has two parts which take place simultaneously, by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. It is a matter of:
Putting off - our sins, wounds, wrong theology, the enemy's attacks, and
Putting on - the Lord Jesus, His character.
2. There is a purpose to fulfill
We also need to talk about this outworking of our reconciliation with God because, as Peter pointed out in 1 Peter 2:2, we need to grow up in our salvation. We need to put off our old self and put on the new self of the holy and mature person of Christ increasingly each day. We need to be prepared for Jesus our Beloved in ways that pleases Him...and He has stated simply that way in His farewell speech to His 12 disciples in John 13:34,35...."Love one another as I have loved you...by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another." This expression of unconditional love among believers will surely point others to the living Christ of truth and grace. We need to be reconciled with one another as God's children...at home, in our churches and in society, to some extent.
Yet, ever so often, we step on each other's toes, we grumble or we throw temper tantrums at each other by refusing to meet or talk kindly to each other. We shut our ears to God out of anger at man and then we wonder why we do not enjoy the abundant life that Jesus promised to His people...inspite of our religious activities.
But if we realise that religious activities are only a tool to enhance reconciliation between God's people as a sign of His presence, then people will not be neglected in the midst of trying to be the best for Him in our church programmes, then people will not be asked to leave a church for fear that they may cause humiliation to us and spoil our reputation as a growing church. Instead, we will ask God for more grace to live with them, to work with them, to cry and laugh with them and bring joy to our heavenly Father's heart!
Even as God-fearing believers, many of us are still more like sandpaper rather than like velvet when it comes to living or working together. Sand paper is rough, generates heat when rubbed against another surface, and is irritating to touch. Velvet, on the other hand, is smooth, gives us a cool feeling and is smooth and soothing to the skin.
As we are more reconciled within ourselves, hopefully, sandpaper relationships with one another will become more and more velvety...so that we will really be His witnesses before a watching world!
3. We need to be reconciled with the wider society and the whole of creation and be as salt and light and, I believe, as a preamble to that grand finale before the presence of God when the new heaven and new earth will arrive in His glory!
It is therefore a blessing to live in a multicultural environment so that we may eventually get more used to being different yet equally human. Though reconciliation in this sense may not mean salvation oneness for all because we are still in a fallen world, God can use our differences to teach His people and prepare them to live in heaven with Him together. Further, at this stage of history, the surfacing of environmental issues appears to be a preamble to the redemption of the whole earth according to His plan for His creation, as related in Romans 8:18-25. Does not our earth groan these days? Is it an indication of its yearning in anticipation of that full release as Jesus Christ ushers in the new heaven and new earth as in Revelations 21:1-4?