Scripture says, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19). We've run over that so many times that I suspect we aren't even seeing it. So let's look.
What is "reconciliation"? Basically, it is the restoration of friendly relations. Included -- required -- in that concept is that we do not currently have friendly relations. So there is a conflict that has to be settled. In the topic at hand, then, who has the conflict? God and us. Who is at fault? Us. So who has to do the reconciling? Us.
But, wait! Do you see that this is not what Paul wrote? He said that God was reconciling the world to Himself through Christ. Our conflict -- a massive sin debt -- was in need of reconciliation and God paid the price. God the Son canceled the debt we couldn't begin to pay off.
This is all wrong. God isn't supposed to do the reconciling; we are. God isn't supposed to pay the price; we are. God is the offended party; we need to make that right. But, of course, we can't. He did. Jesus redeemed us (Romans 3:24) when we were sinners (Romans 3:23). Jesus was "put forward as a propitiation by His blood" by God (Romans 3:25).
I don't know how to express my wonder and gratitude at that. I don't even know if I've communicated it sufficiently. Our self-righteousness gets in the way. Our "I'm not such a bad person" trips us up. "Why wouldn't He?" comes into play. None of it is rational or truthful. That God the Father would send God the Son to die on my behalf to restore friendly relations between us and fill me with God the Spirit is beyond my comprehension. But ... I'll take it. And be grateful for it. And I'll pass it on; that's the "ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18).
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