By: Lt. Colonel Dean Hinson
As the shooting of black men and women by police officers continues and protests, both violent and peaceful, disturb our cities and neighborhoods – we are in need of “reconciliation.” We read in 2 Corinthians 5:19: For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (NLT). It is both God’s work, showing grace to those he created, and work he has given his people to proclaim reconciliation with our lips and our lives.
Brenda Salter McNeil, in “Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness, and Justice,” presents a “road map to reconciliation,” providing practical steps to bring together that which is separated. Looking at the world, we are separated by so many things – race, gender, economics, politics, just to name a few. McNeil defines reconciliation this way: “Reconciliation is about how to relate even after forgiveness and justice have occurred. It’s about how to delve even deeper into relationship with one another. Reconciliation is possible only if we approach it primarily as a spiritual process that requires a posture of hope in the reconciling work of Christ and a commitment from the church to both be and proclaim this type of reconciled community” (page 25).
Along with a posture of hope, I would suggest that reconciliation also requires a posture of humility. Lieutenants Bryan and Tonya Farrington preached from John 13 to kick off their city-wide revival highlighting Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. They have worked for months bringing together churches and believers – a much harder job than it should be. When a city can see and experience the Body of Christ uniting, we can then honestly proclaim the message of reconciliation this world so desperately needs. And it begins with humility, demonstrated by Jesus and required of each of us. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves Philippians 2:3 (NLT).
McNeil concludes her road map for reconciliation by exploring the Hebrew term shalom. She says that it encapsulates the “understanding of the world as God intended it to be” (page 131, italics by author). We can agree that the world around us is not what God intends for us. Sin entered the world, and we are experiencing the effects of the fall. She uses passages from Isaiah (11:6-9 and 2:4) to illustrate God’s Shalom.
“Instead of developing weapons of destruction, people will create tools that benefit humankind,” McNeil wrote, “Enemies will make peace, and there will be no more violence. The whole creation, including the environment, will flourish. There will be no more poverty, pain, sickness, or disease. No more crying. No more dying. No more injustice. No more lying. No more inequality. No more sexism. No more discrimination” (page 132).
You and I have a part to play in bringing about God’s vision; the world as he intended as messengers of reconciliation.