January 2023 | The True Vine and The Soon Coming King

A Multidimensional Look at Reconciliation
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A Multidimensional Look at Reconciliation

Pr. Shalin Lal

Reconciliation is the act of getting two things to be compatible or attuned or harmonious with one another. It simply means bringing diverse things to come together. It is the process of removing the space between two things or people. This article mainly aims at dealing with biblical understanding of reconciliation. The concept is dealt with primarily as the restoration of relationship (between) God-(and) man, (between) man-(and) man as well as (between) man-(and) nature relationship. It is looked at and applied to socio-cultural, ecological and political perspective as well.

Meaning 

Reconciliation begins with God’s act of removing the space between God and human being. It presupposes a created space between God and man which is found in biblical account of human fall (Gen.3).  As the result, relationship between man and God was interrupted. Man started hiding from God losing the confidence to approach God.  There  began a gradual development of gap between God and human being. God, being gracious, wanted to reconcile human with Himself.Reconciliation is accomplished by God exercising His grace towards sinful man by the death of Christ, a propitiating sacrifice to the judgement of sin. The word 'kattallasso' is used in 2 Cor. 5:19 and Col.1:21-22.

Romans 5:10 says that man as enemy of God, was reconciled to him through the death of his son. The expression ‘enemy’ doesn’t only express man’s hostile attitude to God but until a change in attitude takes place, we are under the condition exposed to God’s wrath. 2 Cor. 5:18-19 says that God reconciled the world to Him in Christ.The word reconciliation is used for the woman returning to her husband (1 Cor. 7:11). Eph. 2:16 talks about reconciliation of believing Jews and gentiles into one body unto God through cross. Col.1:21-22 talks not only about the union of gentile and Jews but also the change wrought to the individual believer from alienation and enmity on account of evil works in reconciliation with God. Col. 1:20 Christ reconciled to himself everything in heaven and earth by making peace through his blood shed on the cross. Eph. 1:9-10 To bring all things in heaven and on earth under one head, even Christ. By reconciliation we understand God gave man a new status of son-ship (Jn.3:12;1Jn.3:1; Rom.8:15). God made this possible by restoring and redeeming man from fall and sin. From Rom. 5:1 we understand: “…since have been justified through faith in God we have peace with God.”

Reconciliation as Convergence

Convergence simply means the tendency of unrelated animals or plants to evolve similar characteristics under similar environmental conditions.Convergence also means to form a whole being or entity when two or more things come together. God, by the reconciling act, converges people, nature and creation by removing the wall of separation to a whole new God’s kingdom.

Reconciling With People

The people of Israel were strictly warned not to have any association with gentiles (especially marital and religious). But they had gone extreme in their association with gentiles and other god’s and goddess during the period of judges and kings. Later,the sectarian forms of Judaism were very strict in maintaining their religious fervor not being associated with gentiles. The idea of redemption and salvation or restoration was mostly understood within the framework of Jewish life even though the universal salvific will of God was present in the prophetic literature.The lives of Israelites had been oscillating between syncretism and fundamentalism before and after the exile respectively. Now both Jews and Gentiles are reconciled in Christ. All are equally called to share the heavenly blessing in Christ Jesus. 

We see the culmination of God’s attempt to reconcile human with Him in Christ Jesus, the son of God. In Eph. 2:16 Paul says: “…. And in one body to reconcile both of them to God through cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” In his body Christ reconciled both Jew and gentile to God through cross. The New Testament records carry this story of reconciliation of human with God through the sacrificial life and work of Jesus Christ. Christ is the one who stood in the gap between God and between human. The message of gospel is this message of God’s reconciling act. Christ thought and acted beyond the Jewish framework to bring everyone together. In 2.Cor 5:18-19 Paul says that God has given us a ‘ministry of reconciliation’ by reconciling the world to Him in Christ. Christ has brought reconciliation by his act of sacrifice and his very ministry of reconciliation.

In the ministry of reconciliation he recognized the poor, sinners, women and children, outcasts and physically challenged and gentiles. He accepted everyone irrespective of caste, race and gender etc. He died once for all to reconcile everyone to God, the Father. 

Jesus tried to reconcile everyone by calling them into kingdom community where there is no discrimination. In the community of Jesus there were rich, poor, blind and lame, widows, lepers, sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, destitute Jew and gentiles. The Christian church is the group of such reconciled people. Jesus said: “I will build my Church, the gates of Hades shall not prevail over it” (Math 18:16). We need to look at this statement from the perspective of reconciliation. The core of high priestly prayer (Jn. 17) of Jesus is the perfect unity of his disciples. The metaphor used for the church (Body of Christ) represents perfect unity or reconciliation of the members of Christian church. Reconciling in Christ and with the fellow member bridges the gap created by society or culture (color, race, caste, language, geography and money) and religion. Reconciliation as convergence merges all people to show and share equal status to form a Whole New body in Christ. 

Reconciling With Creation

Biblical idea of reconciliation basically points to the reconciliation of human with God. The resultant impact of this reconciled state of being should manifest in proper reconciliation between human beings and between human and other creation.The God in the Old Testament is pictured as the One who created the heaven and the earth and everything in it. Even the very first allusion about God in Bible was God as the creator of very thing (Gen. 1:1). The relationship between man and nature is a serious concern of eco-spirituality.The focus here is the interrelationships of religion and nature, particularly in the light of emerging environmental concerns. We need to start thinking on the basis of relationship that exists between human religious/spiritual worldviews and the degradation of nature. Environmental concerns in the context of natural degradation should be a major perspective of our theological interpretation of spiritual reconciliation with nature as God’s creation.Christ reconciled to himself everything in heaven and earth by making peace through his blood shed on the cross (Col. 1:20). It is God’s vision that nature and man had to be at peace with each other.

National Integration

An understanding on biblical idea of reco- nciliation will take us to connect the concept to nation- building. Nation-building means to create or shape a national identity using the power of the state. It indicates and necessitates a feeling of common/national identity among the citizens. It is an attempt to build a strong and developed nation transcending racial, cultural, and religious or regional differences. It promotes the unity in diversity and feeling of oneness to a great level. It brings about racial and cultural similarity among people of a nation. The basic underlying principle is integration of each and every region and ethnic group to be one body as a nation. The struggle to make a perfect integration of people is intense in India, being a land of plurality.This plurality ranges from caste, class, regional, linguistic,religious (communalism, fanaticism and terrorism), and gender differences etc. These are forces and spirits that stand against the spirit of reconciliation. 

The purpose of National Integration Council originated in a conference convened by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in September–October 1961 to find ways to counter problems that were dividing the country.The NIC was to review national integration issues and make recommendations. The NIC met for the first time in June 1962. The last meeting (sixteenth meeting) was held on 23 September 2013.What is the Christian response and participation in this task? Discerning the time and events are significant for spiritual, theological, ministerial and missional development of the Church.Christian and other religious minorities in India realize and experience a mixed feeling ‘of constitutional privileges and of being persecuted.’This reduces the pace of national integration which in turn will stagnate nation-building process. Christian response to national integration and nation-building must be influenced by the concept of ‘reconciliation as convergence.’ It is to realize the value of God’s reconciliation of everything under  heaven through Christ. The resultant impact of God’s act of reconciliation with fallen man is seen in human responsibility of taking the ministry of reconciliation. That is to carry out task of converging of people of plurality or diversity. Our participation and involvement in matters pertaining to nation-building is a significant reflection of our realization of Christ who became the means and sacrifice for converging everyone and everything created under heaven.

Conclusion

Reconciliation is a divine imitative. God accomplished it by exercising His grace towards sinful man through the sacrificial death of Christ, once and for all.  We are redeemed and restored back to God, though sinful in nature. God, through Christ, brought everyone and every created thing back to Him and converged to be known and as whole new being  in Christ. We are at peace with God, with each other and with rest of the creation. The ‘reconciled state of being’ needs to be manifested in our relationship with God, fellow human beings and with rest of the creation by doing the ministry of reconciliation which applies to the of the well being nation at large. 

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