The ministry of reconciliation

“But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”  Genesis 33:4

This has long struck me as one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible.  I can’t read it without being moved.  But we all feel the power of it.  When we see ex-friends reconciling, so removing every barrier that they run and embrace and fall on one another’s necks — I love that expression — and weep, the beauty of it gets to us.  Not a negotiated settlement.  No face-saving baloney.  The real thing.  Honest.  Unforced.  Deeply felt.  I think we all perceive true reconciliation with awe.  It is of God.

The apostle Paul said, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).  He didn’t say he had “moments of reconciliation now and then.”  He said God gave him “the ministry of reconciliation.”  In other words, “Reconciliation is all I do.  It’s how I roll.  What else is there?”

Left to ourselves, we might think it’s okay to leave ex-friends as ex-friends.  No further harm is being done.  Why not “just move on”?  That’s the glib slogan we use.  And Paul did qualify his hopes for reconciliation: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).  Some people just shut down.  We try, but they’re not open.  So, it doesn’t depend on you or me at that point, not any more.  We have to leave it with God.  But so far as it does depend on us, we seek a real experience of shalom with all, absolutely all, for the Lord’s sake.

The gospel being what it is and always will be, “the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19), our churches should be the most reconciling, peaceable, relaxed, happy places in town.  We are so open to enemies, so meek in the face of insults and injuries, so forgiving toward the undeserving — if we do make people angry, let this be the reason.  We refuse to join in their selfish battles.  We’re following a higher call.  We are the peacemakers, the true sons of God (Matthew 5:9).

May our ministries of reconciliation be so obvious, we cause scandal all over town.