My dear friend Amanda and I have just started dwelling in this passage together long distance. This is our third day and I’m stunned by how much stuff there is in these 21 verses. Today I read the following:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. –2 Corinthians 5: 18-20
Over the past few weeks there has been a heated debate about issues that divide families churches, and this country. Let me restate that…over the past few YEARS the debate has been constant. I know none of this is new but in a world of 24 hour news, internet updates, and social media the arguments are louder, more constant, and seemingly less polite.
This year I’ve made it my goal to try to really see the humanity of each person I interact with. To do that I have to sometimes look through the vitriol the agenda, and the message they want so desperately to send and try to see the person…the real person on the other side of the argument and the words. This is not always easy for me because I have opinions, beliefs, and a strong desire to see love and justice play out. But I know that my definition of love and justice differs from some of my friends and I have to choose…yes CHOOSE…to see through our different opinions and see their humanity.
I do this because I honestly believe that I am a new creation with a ministry of reconciliation. I believe that comes from my relationship with Jesus and from my connection to living creatures and creation all around me (dare I say universal consciousness…yes…I dare!). I believe that reconciliation is not a keeping of score but an act of making things right. But making things right doesn’t mean that I have the answers and need everyone to line up like good little ducks so that I can reconcile them to my checklist.
When I think of a ministry of reconciliation…I get a mental image of walking through a messy room, and righting things. Picking up that lamp and setting it gently upright on the table and straightening out the lamp shade. Fluffing a pillow there. Putting a stack of books away on a shelf. Reaching up to tilt a picture back to it’s squared up position. Plucking a fallen piece of paper from the floor and placing it back on the top of the right stack.
And when I imagine this in my life it looks like…sending money to a friend who is having a tight month and is nervous she won’t make her budget. Or speaking an apology over someone that I didn’t listen to very closely when they needed it. Stopping to look someone in the eye who needs to be seen. Bending down to rub the ears of the nervous puppy at work who wants to be calmed. Joyfully celebrating the engagement of a friend who will be marrying their partner. Smiling at a baby in the line in front of me who is watching me with her big eyes wondering who I am. Speaking up and using my words when someone or a group of someones is dismissive of my talented female friend who is gifted for amazing and nontraditional things. Making someone laugh who could use a chuckle. Handing my apple to the guy on the street who is hungry.
Ministry of reconciliation…love in action…a choice to be an agent of kindness, love, and peace…representing the best of the Jesus that I’ve come to love so deeply. Offering light. Choosing grace. Extending mercy. Reconciliation of others. Reconciliation of myself.