n the previous issue’s article, we looked at the many reasons we as believers need community based on Hebrews 10:24-25:
...and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
It was argued that love is never stimulated (encouraged, nurtured, motivated) apart from community. We will now look at the qualities that should be part of any community, any church.
One of the things we need to be encouraged to do is to be reconciled. We are called to be agents of reconciliation. If we are going to be able to share the message of reconciliation with the world, we need to be a reconciled community. In II Corinthians 5:18-21, Paul writes:
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us a ministry of reconciliation namely that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Note that God is the one who initiates the process “All these things are from God.” William Temple once wrote: “…all is of God; the only thing of my very own which I contribute to my redemption is the sin from which I need to be redeemed.”
Note also that Christ, of course, is the one who carries out the task of reconciliation. We are reconciled “through Christ,” “in Christ,” and it is Christ that takes our place. Christ who was perfect took our sin on Himself that we might become righteous in Him. There is a double transfer: our sin is transferred to Christ’s account and Christ’s righteousness is transferred to our account. Luther put it this way:
Learn to sing to Him and say, Lord Jesus you are my righteousness. You took on you what was mine, you set on me what was yours. You became what you were not that I might become what I was not.
Now it can not only be said of us “no condemnation” but also “righteous.” Christ’s righteousness covers us like a full length coat. Now when God looks at us, He sees Christ. There is a sense in which you look as beautiful to the Father as does His Son. There is also a sense in which you are as accepted by the Father as is the Son. How accepted is the Son? One hundred percent. How accepted are you? One hundred percent (in Christ). How accepted do we feel? Often we do not experience the real acceptance we have in Christ.
Notice also that because of what God has done in Christ, we are given a task. We now have a “ministry of reconciliation;” we are entrusted with a “word of reconciliation;” we are “ambassadors for Christ;” our new message is “be reconciled to God.” The only way we can speak this message with conviction is if we are reconciled ourselves. We must be reconciled in order to be reconcilers.
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