Most every night, I read my 9-year-old son a chapter or two from a book. Currently, we’re reading a children’s version of The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. This is a famous allegory that uses the story of Christian and his journey to the Celestial City to describe a believer’s walk of faith.
In one of the recent chapters, Christian met another man, Ignorance, on the road to the Celestial City. In Bunyan’s story, Ignorance thought he would be accepted in the Celestial City if he led a good life and accomplished good acts. If his good deeds and his good thoughts balanced out his bad actions and bad thoughts, he would be reconciled “to the good” and allowed into the city. Christian talked with much love to Ignorance, telling him of true faith in Christ, but Ignorance refused to embrace the Gospel, preferring to adhere to his own belief and walk a separate path.
This short vignette clearly portrays the “ministry of reconciliation” that today’s reading describes. Christian HAD to share the good news that he knew. He wanted Ignorance to know the grace of Christ and join him in the true journey to the Celestial City.
I often think of reconciliation much like Ignorance did, in terms of bringing things into balance – like reconciling a checkbook, but the word used by Paul here in Corinthians has a much deeper meaning. It speaks of exchange: God through His grace and love in Christ invites us to be justified in His sight through Christ.
The ministry of reconciliation is a two-step process. The first step is our choice to accept the invitation of Christ; the second step is joining in the reconciliation ministry by sharing the good news with others.
There are many ways to share the good news of Christ. For Christian, in The Pilgrim’s Progress, it was in a natural conversation while on a walk with a companion. I like that picture of sharing Christ as a natural part of life. I try to follow that model – that’s one reason I like to read stories to my son at night. The stories we read give us a natural opportunity to talk about God and things of faith.
How can you take part in the ministry of reconciliation?