SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 15, 2013)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT” Galatians 5:25 (NIV).
In the previous edition we saw that the Christian should strive to live in peace with all men as part of their character as children of God. It was emphasized that we cannot always agree with all people at all times neither can all people agree with us because of the many differences we may have. Yet that should not make us live like enemies. IT WAS ALSO EMPHASIZED THAT AS WE SEEK TO LIVE IN PEACE WITH ALL MEN, WE SHOULD NEVER SACRIFICE THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST IN THE NAME OF PEACE WITH ALL MEN. In this edition, we want to focus on the role of the Christian as an agent of reconciliation in the family, church and society. However, it will be emphasized in this edition that the most important role of the Christian as an agent of reconciliation is the role of seeking peace between men and God.
As mentioned in the previous edition, Jesus said that those who are PEACEMAKERS SHALL BE HAPPY (BLESSED) BECAUSE THEY SHALL BE CALLED THE ‘CHILDREN’ OF GOD. This should prompt all Christians to try to understand what it means to be a PEACEMAKER. A peacemaker literally means an individual who tries to reconcile two conflicting groups or individuals. This is a very important because of the present situation in the world in which we live. If we cast our eyes and ears around us, we can identify the many conflicting parties and individuals around us. There are conflicts between peoples of same families, even between husbands and wives and parents and children. The same can be found within churches where individuals in the same church have conflicts between them. This extends to even conflicts between different denominations of the church. Conflicts also exist between different ethnic groups within the same nation and beyond. We can also find several tensions between nations. All these tell us that the world lacks the peace that Christ offers to his people. It is therefore the responsibility of those who have been reconciled to God through Christ to help reconcile men to men so that they may see who Christ really is. When we seek to bring peace between two conflicting individuals or groups under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they will also come to taste of the goodness of the Lord and glorify our Father who is in heaven. That is what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16:
“IN THE SAME WAY, LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE BEFORE MEN THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD DEEDS AND PRAISE YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN” (NIV).
Jesus meant that we should demonstrate what we have received from him to the world and that will result in people seeing the goodness in him through us and praise the Father who is above all. This can be achieved when we first live in peace with God, in peace within ourselves, in peace with our family members and beyond as well as those who may even hate and persecute us.
But that is not enough; we should also make concrete efforts at reaching out to conflicting parties and helping bring peace between them. In his Letter to Philemon, Paul sought to reconcile Onesimus who had wronged his master Philemon. A closer look at the letter shows that Paul was willing to sacrifice so much just to reconcile the two (Philemon 1:17). This shows that it is not so easy to be an agent of reconciliation. Sometimes it may cost you a lot of time, and even money or other precious resources, but that should not discourage us from trying to seek peace between conflicting sides when it is within our reach. Sometimes some of the conflicts between people are such as that we may not be able to approach the parties involved. In that case we can still be agents of reconciliation through our prayers, asking the Lord to cause his shalom to fall on the disputing parties. We should not look at conflicts between other people passively; we should do what we can physically or spiritually to ensure peace between people. This is especially important among believers because unity is vital to the body of Christ. In Ephesians chapter two, Paul showed how what Christ came to do and its relevance for the church:
“For Christ himself has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us. By his death he ended the whole system of Jewish law that excluded the Gentiles. His purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death, and our hostility toward each other was put to death” Ephesians 2:14-16.
If Jesus came to reconcile us as one body, why should we do anything to destroy what he came to do? Why are we not making enough efforts at ensuring peace within the body but rather causing unnecessary divisions in the one body that Christ came to establish? Let us begin to live as people who are agents of reconciliation within the body of Christ.
Beyond the body of Christ, the Christian still has a duty of being an agent of reconciliation. Jesus came to reconcile sinful men to the Righteous God. Before he went back to the Father, Jesus charged the Church to GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, …… AND TEACH THEM TO OBEY ALL THAT HE COMMANDED (Matthew 28:19-20). What is the essence of that? What will happen if believers obey Christ and make disciples of all nations? It will result in leading sinners to Christ, that is, reconciling men to God not by ourselves but by the help of the one who has called and sent us.
I WISH TO POINT OUT THAT NO MAN CAN RECONCILE ANOTHER MAN TO GOD; IT IS THE SOLE WORK OF GOD HIMSELF. HOWEVER, HE USES US TO SHARE THE GOOD NEWS WHICH HAS THE POWER TO DRAW SINNERS TO GOD. THEREFORE IT IS NOT OUR PREACHING WHICH SAVES BUT CHRIST. WE ARE ONLY HIS VESSELS. THIS DOES NOT ALSO MEAN THAT WE DO NOT NEED TO EVANGELIZE BECAUSE OUR PREACHING CANNOT SAVE ANYONE. THAT WILL BE DISOBEDIENCE ON OUR PART.
Every Christian has the duty of sharing the good news with the world. When we do it, he will draw sinners to himself. Of course this command is not different from Acts 1:8. We have been called to be witnesses everywhere in this world, beginning from our locality and going beyond. If we proclaim the gospel, we are leading people to gain knowledge about God which cause them to call on the name on the name of the Lord by which they shall be saved. In Romans 10:14, Paul said as an explanation to verse 13:
“HOW THEN CAN THEY CALL ON THE ONE THEY HAVE NOT BELIEVED IN?
AND HOW CAN THEY BELIEVE IN THE ONE OF WHOM THEY HAVE NOT HEARD?
AND HOW CAN THEY HEAR WITHOUT SOMEONE PREACHING TO THEM?”
So whichever way one looks at it, it is obvious that the believer has a responsibility not only to reconcile men with one another, but also as agent through whom men can be reconciled to God under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore we should not fail to share the gospel with those who have NOT received Jesus.
“The GOSPEL IS THE POWER OF GOD FOR THE SALVATION OF EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES: FIRST FOR THE JEW, THEN FOR THE GENTILE” Romans 1:16.
If we should fail to preach the gospel we are failing to play our roles as agents of reconciliation. HOWEVER, EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD KNOW THAT WHETHER WE PREACH THE GOOD NEWS OR NOT, GOD WILL SAVE THOSE WHOM HE WANTS TO SAVE BECAUSE CHRIST IS THE GREATEST PEACEMAKER. BUT WE SHOULD BE CAREFUL NOT TO BE CAST OUT BY NOT PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL AS COMMANDED BY CHRIST!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
The Power of the Gospel
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.