This morning my friend and fellow pastor, Arthur Goncalves, preached a powerful message about a job, a ministry given to all Christians — the ministry of reconciliation.
Here is the portion of the Bible text he used: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 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 men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
Arthur emphasized over and over the truth that until you and I, as believers in Jesus Christ, grasp, embrace and are overwhelmed by the costly grace extended to us so that we might be reconciled to God, we will never be able to exercise the gift of ministering reconciliation to others. How can we possibly share what we have not or are not experiencing ourselves?
I was pondering this during my afternoon walk when I received a text from a man asking for prayer for his marriage. He and his wife both feel hopeless. He feels verbally abused and disrespected; she feels unloved and fearful. Every attempt to communicate becomes an argument.
Quickly I responded that I would pray and determined to use the rest of my walk to do so. But how shall I pray for them? “God, help him love her more effectively, help her be more respectful”? “Lord, teach them how to speak the truth in love so they can talk without arguing”?
Nothing wrong with those prayers, of course. But it struck me that these two professed believers have been given the ministry of reconciliation – and they are not even capable of exercising it in their marriage, much more share the message with their friends and neighbors.
So this is what I prayed (and will continue to pray):
“Heavenly Father, this is not about [him] and [her], although you know that is where the real problem is playing out. No, Father, this is about them and you. They either have forgotten or have never truly known the humbling and empowering reality that you sacrificed your Son that they might become new creations in Christ, the ultimate reconciliation. I know they know this in their heads; but their hearts have yet to embrace it. Lord, break their hearts and their spirits, knowing you are available to heal the broken hearted and set these captives free from the bondages of their old ways of thinking. Only then will the ministry of reconciliation be present in their home. Thank you for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
I invite you to pray with me for them. God will know who you’re talking about.