The following is a summary of the sermon I preached at Emmanuel Baptist Church on 11/13/11. Audio CD’s can be requested by contacted the church office.
Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be call sons of God” (Mt. 5:9). As children of God, we should be people who build peace where there used to be conflict – Peace with God, and Peace with others. God made peace with us through the Gospel and He sends us out as Ministers of Reconciliation. The Gospel has turned us from enemies into family… and we are called to do likewise.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 the Apostle Paul instructs Christians that they are ambassadors for Christ who must go out to proclaim to others, “Be reconciled to God!” Reconciliation literally means, “To rejoin what has been separated.” Jesus Christ took our sin upon himself, canceling our debt, and reconciling to the Father. We have been reconciled to God, adopted as children of God through faith in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. This is the message of reconciliation we are instructed to share.
How can we plead with others to be reconciled to God if we ourselves leave a trail of conflict behind us? The Gospel isn’t merely a pattern to follow or a good example to learn from; the Gospel is life. Even if you could live at peace with everyone you know, there would still be “something” missing in your life… and you’d know it. We need to be reconciled to God, and that is only possible through faith in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the foundation for peace-making; meanwhile, peace-making is a fruit of the Gospel.
Bitterness and an unforgiving heart are directly opposed to the Christian’s calling. We will never desire peace any more than we desire humility. Are you willing to learn from Christ and make the necessary sacrifices in order to bring about peace and reconciliation?
“The peace that God secures is never cheap peace, but always costly. He is indeed the world’s preeminent peacemaker, but when he determined on reconciliation with us, his “enemies” who had rebelled against him, he “made peace” through the blood of Christ’s cross (Col 1:20). …We have no right to expect, therefore, that we will be able to engage in conciliation work at no cost to ourselves….” (John Stott, in The Cross of Christ)
One helpful reminder is the difference between Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Forgiveness is one-sided: I’m responsible for it and I can do this without you doing it in return. Reconciliation, however, is a two-way road: I can’t force you to be reconciled to me, it must be mutual. While I can’t force reconciliation, I need to do everything I can to make it possible.
Jesus prayed, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sinned against us.” Are we really willing to do that, or it is just something we say in church? When we refuse to forgive and pursue peace with others then we need to remember how much we have been forgiven by God through the Gospel.
Please visit PeaceMaker Ministries’ website for the “Seven A’s of Confession” I shared in the sermon are listed on the website along with many other wonderful resources here: Foundational Principles in PeaceMaking.
A simple way to determine whom you need to pursue reconciliation with is to ask yourself this question: “Who makes you roll your eyes?” God made peace with us through the Gospel, and He sends us out as Ministers of Reconciliation. Do you bring peace where there is conflict – Peace with God, and Peace with others?
About two years ago I used PeaceMaker Ministries’ resources to teach a series in Youth Group called “Conflicted?” below are the links to those lesson summaries: