by Stephen Simpson
Publication: One-to-One, Spring 2006

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, IS…

Women huggingIn nearly 37 years of publishing, we have been privileged to work with many dedicated employees. Some of them are especially memorable. For instance, I will always appreciate the opportunity I had to work with and become friends with Mark Pie, our art director for many years. Mark was best known for his ingenious and hilarious “Lighter Side” cartoons for New Wine Magazine.

Among our magazine staff through the years, it has been a well-known fact that whatever the theme is for the particular magazine issue on which we are working, we will experience great testing. For instance, a magazine issue on “Spiritual Warfare” seemed to provoke significant spiritual warfare in our own personal lives. “Economics” was always a fun topic to cover, let me tell you! Of course, Mark once famously said, “If we ever do an issue on mental health, I am outta here!”

So, here we are, working on an issue on “Reconciliation.” And guess what? Oh, yes, there have been tests these past few weeks. I won’t name names, of course, but some of us have been tested and found testy.

Concerning tests and trials, James wrote these words:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:2-5).

Patience is certainly a key component in reconciliation. We live in an impatient society that often seems thin-skinned and hard-hearted…a “Land of the Fearful and the Home of the Offended.” Many people today operate in a matrix of disposable relationships, going through them like so much tissue paper in flu season. Mad at someone? Dump them! Offended with someone? Cut them off! An inconvenient baby? Abort it! Finished using someone’s gifts for your own gain? Throw the person away! You think you “deserve better” than your spouse? Divorce them! Maybe we have done these things to others—maybe we have had these things done to us by others. There’s plenty of hurt to go around these days.

We become easily scandalized; then, fearful of honest, healthy, redemptive confrontation, we lapse into permanent bitterness and separation…and strife. No wonder modern civilization seems to be rapidly fragmenting. In a splintered world, the opportunity and need for reconcilers and reconciliation is great.

Thank God, we as believers have access to God’s grace and power, to be reconciled to God and to one another; and then to share the word of reconciliation with those who are broken and cut off. Our opportunity: to receive God’s healing and then to minister it to others. The apostle Paul puts it like this:

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

How amazing is it that God has “committed to us” the word and the work of reconciliation? To us? He calls us His “ambassadors.” That is, we speak and act, not on our own behalf, but on His. He has given us a charge; it is both an honor and a responsibility. In order to properly steward and execute this privilege, we must keep in mind who’s Name and who’s Word we carry.

Our task is not a short-term one; it is a life-long mission. It might even cost us our lives. Reconciliation is costly. But, then again, we are not our own. We belong to Him. We have been purchased and redeemed by the great price of His precious blood. He has every right to call us into His work. Reach out in faith—be reconciled to God, and become a reconciler in His Name. May He use this issue of One-to-One for His glory.

Scripture Reference: James 1:2-5; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20