A Ministry of Reconciliation

“He has also set eternity in the human heart.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11

If you knew me well you might label me as someone with “documentary energy”. To which, you would be right. Documentary films have always fascinated me. Over the years there have been several such films that have left an impression, but one specific scene stands alone in my memory. It was some kind of sports documentary that followed the 2006 World Cup. In what is now the only scene I can remember, one of the players from the winning team is being interviewed months after the championship match. He recounts the exhilarating high of winning the World Cup for his country, the pinnacle of his profession, and the dream of millions of little boys around the world. He then retells the story of the plane ride home. As he sat in his seat he realized that he had just accomplished his life dream. He had climbed the ladder of success all the way to the top. He had lived the best day of his life. And yet he sat there hopeless and empty. Was that it? Could that really be all there is? There has to be something more, doesn’t there? This man, a success by every measurable category, sat in his seat depressed and contemplating suicide. That’s as much as I remember, and I think that’s enough.

I’m convinced, and I think our empty World Cup champion would agree, that one of the most basic human desires is very simply for something more; for something greater, for something that will last. Solomon seemed to be convinced of that too when he wrote that God has put eternity into each of our hearts. As a follower of Jesus, I think God is that ‘more’. But you’ll find this innate desire at every point on the spectrum of belief. Too often though we don’t act on this desire.

“’Then he isn’t safe?’ said Lucy. ‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver: ‘don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’” – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Irenaeus, while living hundreds of years before The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was written, unknowingly echoed the heart behind Mr. Beaver’s words when he wrote, “the glory of God is a human being fully alive”. The flesh desires comfort but the heart desires life. It desires eternity. It desires more. We can relate to Lucy here because we are Lucy. Like Lucy, we know internally what is good, meaningful, and lasting, but we hesitate to take hold of it because we’re afraid of jeopardizing what we think is safe. We can become so concerned with being safe and comfortable that we forget to live. We forget what it means to be fully alive. In another one of my favorite quotes, C.S. Lewis mirrors this thought when he says, “Lock it (your heart) up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” To follow Jesus implies that He’s going somewhere. Therefore, to follow Jesus means to deny the desire to lock ourselves and our hearts up in the safety of our “caskets and coffins”. To live out the deep longing for more is the life that Jesus calls each of His followers to. It may not be safe, but it is good. It’s what Paul calls, “the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).

Not convinced yet? Let me try one more example. A few weeks ago I met a woman from Pakistan with her four year old son. I still can’t believe it, but her son’s name is Aslan. Like the overwhelming majority of the population in Pakistan, this woman is a committed Muslim, and yet she named her son after Aslan, the singing creator and resurrected King of Narnia and the most obvious depiction of Jesus you’ll find in any work of fiction. When I realized this, I had to ask the mother about it. She doesn’t believe in Jesus. She doesn’t believe in those attributes that align so well in Jesus and Aslan. And yet she named her first born son after Him! If that isn’t an internal desire for more, an internal desire for eternity in the heart of the mother then I don’t know what is. I’m utterly convinced of this deep deep desire in each of us. I see it all around us. Pay attention and you will too.

“We do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”2 Corinthians 5:4

For what is comfortable to bow to what is good, for the temporary to bend to the lasting, and for earth to be consumed by heaven; this is what Paul is getting at when he says “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life”. Paul expands on how this happens a few lines later when he says, “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 people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). God is in the business of reconciliation. Having been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus, every follower of Jesus is now a partner with Him in this business. The heart of the Father is to “reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:20). Likewise, that should be the heart of His people. And even the people that don’t yet know Him, the cry of their heart is to find the source of their longing. To find and live out their place in this story of redemption and reconciliation.

“We’re businessmen. We’re in the business of reconciliation.” – Andrew Smith

Jesus’ invitation to us to be His “ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20) in the “reconciling to himself of all things” (Colossians 1:20) is the invitation into that life of more. When Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray He says, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Jesus brings more and more of His kingdom here as He reconciles to himself more and more of this world and the people in it. That we are offered a small role in this is the answer to all the heart’s longing. To live this life of “more” with God might not look how you expect. He isn’t always comfortable, and He isn’t always safe. But like Mr. Beaver said, He’s good, and He’s the King. I think that’s enough.

Author  |  Jake Stephens

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