But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:8–11 (NRSV)
Estranged. That word just sounds bad, doesn’t it? Webster’s Dictionary defines the word this way: to remove from customary environment or associations; to arouse especially mutual enmity or indifference in where there had formerly been love, affection, or friendliness. Webster’s goes on to mention synonyms like alienate and disaffect.
One of the main messages of Scripture is that something has broken our relationship with God and God has been working throughout history to rescue us and restore the relationship. In most church circles, this idea is summed up in the words “saved” or “salvation.” But those words have a flat meaning – we are saved from hell and get to go the heaven.
What God accomplished in the rescue is infinitely more beautiful and comprehensive that that! For the weeks leading up to Easter, we are going to look at several of the ways the New Testament envisions God’s rescue plan for us.
We will look at images like Reconciliation, New Birth, Redemption, Citizenship, and Forgiveness. It is my hope that looking at these portrayals of God’s rescue work will help us grow in our appreciation for God’s work and the relationship God offers us.
This week we will look at the image of reconciliation. Reconciliation implies that there was a relationship that had been strained or broken; the emphasis is on the relationship. It is not just that we have broken some rules or laws and need to be forgiven, but that we have broken a relationship of trust with our heavenly Father. God has taken the first step to repairing that relationship and offering reconciliation to us. But, just like reconciling with a friend or a misbehaving spouse, reconciliation is on God’s terms and not ours. We just can’t tell God, “Yeah, I messed up, I’m sorry, so you need to just get over it.” God expects a good faith response called repentance and a willingness to submit to the relationship.
God has already done everything that can be done from his standpoint to provide for reconciliation (if he had not, reconciliation would not even be possible). Now, it is up to us to respond to that offer and come back to God.
I hope you will join us for this entire series as we explore the many-sided picture of God’s rescue.