One of the things I love about the Bible is that it pictures God’s love for us in so many different ways. One way that brings comfort to many people who have felt estranged from God is the idea of reconciliation. A most comforting passage in that regard is 2 Corinthians 5: 19. “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
Note the past tense: “God was in Christ, reconciling”. Paul clearly is talking about something that happened in the past. Otherwise he would have had to write, “God is in Christ”. Secondly, note whom God reconciled unto himself. Strikingly, Paul wrote, “the world.” Not just believers, but the world. That’s significant.
I have often used the following little illustration to explain this concept. Stephanie, a teenager, had done something so bad against her parents that it caused her to run away from home. Her parents didn’t know where she was, but one of her best friends did. Therefore Stephanie’s parents sent a message to Stephanie through her friend. “We love you. We have forgiven you. Come home.” When Stephanie gets the message, she can’t believe it. So she doesn’t come home. As a result of her unbelief, she receives no benefits of reconciliation. She still lives estranged from her parents. But does that mean that her parents hadn’t already forgiven her – that her parents hadn’t already reconciled with Stephanie? No it doesn’t. In fact, it would be totally unfair to say that the parents had not forgiven her.
All illustrations and analogies limp. For example, God knows where we are at unlike Stephanie’s parents. But, hopefully, the point I am trying to make from that illustration is clear. In the same way, God has already reconciled the world to himself in Christ – “not imputing their trespasses unto them”. Christians are now in the position of Stephanie’s friend. We are God’s message bringing this wonderful message. “and hath committed to us the word of reconciliation”. And what a wonderful message it is. Instead of peppering it with “ifs” – “if you do this” – even “if you believe” – instead I can say that God has already reconciled you to himself. God has already imputed your trespasses – all because of Jesus – believe it!
Before someone replies by saying that, “See, we have to do something – we have to believe”, I would ask them to read previous posts where I explain 1) that the Bible describes even the faith to believe as one of his gifts to us; and 2) this is brought out by passages that describe faith and works (in the realm of salvation) like oil and water. They don’t mix.
The point of this post is that when we view reconciliation from God’s side, it is a done deal. He doesn’t wait to reconcile himself to us until we repent, improve, or even believe. No. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” That, my friends, is the awesome good news of the Bible. Believe it!