Reconciliation (translation for three New Testament Greek words) brings an end to enmity. It builds a bridge over the quarrel that produced enemies and caused separation. It ends the hostility.

The priority illustration is the reconciliation to God that produces a Christian (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Prior to entering Christ, every accountable person is God's enemy (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21,22; James 4:4). Human evil, as it occurs in an unforgiven life, invokes God's anger and stirs His just wrath. Righteous hostility alienates the God of holiness from the unforgiven person.

Reconciliation occurs only if the true cause of the enmity is addressed. God addressed the true cause of the enmity that invoked His wrath and alienated Him from people--sin. God empowered perfect forgiveness by destroying the cause of the enmity. The guiltiness for sin (evil) can be removed from a person by the perfect cleansing power of Christ's blood. Atonement and redemption built a bridge over human evil.

If a person is to be reconciled to God, he must respond to God's initiative. (God's initiative exists independent of human response.) For a person to make reconciliation reality, he must accept ownership of his evil and surrender his evil to God's forgiveness. While God cannot "forget" unforgiven human evil, God and people can be reconciled. God initiated reconciliation. People must respond to His initiative if reconciliation is to occur.

When enmity and hostility are born in person-to-person alienation, they, too, must be reconciled. A classic Old Testament example involved brothers, Jacob and Esau. Through exploitation and greed, Jacob stole Esau's most precious right. Enraged, Esau vowed that he would kill Jacob, and Jacob fled.

In great fear of Esau's anger and vow, Jacob returned many years later with a family and wealth (Genesis 32, 33). He initiated reconciliation, and Esau accepted. Jacob could not right the ugliness of his greed and abuse in the past. However, through reconciliation, they ended their enmity and built a bridge across their quarrel.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 12 January 1997

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