“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (ESV)
The deaths of African-Americans at the hands of Police Officers as caught on video, the unjustified murders of Dallas Police Officers, and the recent horrific attack on members of the LGBT community at a nightclub in Orlando should cause lament within the entire Body of Christ in the United States of America. These tragic events are also an opportunity like never before for the Church to embody and extend the love, reconciliation, and justice of the Kingdom of God.These tragic events are an opportunity for the Church to extend the Kingdom of God. Click To Tweet
The deaths of African Americans, Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile of Saint Paul, Minnesota hit so close to home within my own soul. I have been a target of racial profiling on a number of occasions. I have been pulled over by Police Officers, held for significant periods of time, and been yelled and cussed at for no other reason than being Black. These moments wounded my heart and reminded me of the challenge of being Black in the United States of America and within the unbiblical and social matrix of race. So, when I see a graphic video of an African American male being shot and killed by Police Officers in situations very similar to ones where White males are simply apprehended and taken into custody, it wounds my heart.
The deaths of 5 Dallas Police Officers also wounds my heart. My wife has relatives who are members of the Dallas Police Department. I also have friends who are Police Officers. Police Officers on many occasions have been a positive force in my life. Depicting, verbalizing, or acting to murder Police Officers is in no way a justifiable response to the need for reform in policing urban communities and the larger criminal justice system as it relates to African Americans.
My wounded heart is filled with pain over the lack of fully seeing Black bodies as made in the image of God. Not only is this painful reality shown within the deaths of African Americans at the hands of Police Officers, but it also shows up in Black on Black homicides in cities like Chicago over the last year. It also shows up in how abortion impacts African Americans within this nation. We live in the racialized reality that there is even a segment of African Americans that struggle with seeing their own Black bodies as made in the image of God. Though I am wounded by this reality, my Christian faith calls me to action. This is where reconciliation becomes the Christ-centered framework for how I must live in this upside down, broken, sinful, and unjust world.Though I am wounded by this reality, my Christian faith calls me to action. Click To Tweet
Christ and the Work of Reconciliation
Reconciliation is presented in Scripture as the transformative result and ongoing force of Christ coming into our world. Salvation, deliverance, liberation, righteousness, justification, and justice are all elements of the reconciling work of God through Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is not just something that God has done through Christ, but something that God desires to continue doing through Christ-followers today. Reconciliation as a supernatural force, bringing about transformation in the natural world, is how the Kingdom of God comes to bear upon injustice, dysfunction, division, and inequality.
As Christ-followers we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. The ministry of reconciliation can show up as a nonviolent and strategic weapon of transformation as it did during the Civil Rights Movement. The ministry of reconciliation is taking the Church to the streets so that the lost are found, the hurting helped, and the oppressed are liberated.
We may be wounded by the crisis in our nation, but we must at least function as wounded reconcilers. Wounds are caused by events, but reconciliation should be our daily calling. This moment calls for a reconciling church, which puts the Kingdom of God before a captivity to hyper nationalism. Too many Christians are making comments through social media that seem more connected to this captivity to hyper nationalism fueled by cable news and radio shock commentators for hire than a people deeply committed to citizenship in the Kingdom of God.
The life of the reconciler on behalf of the Kingdom of God is one of love, humility, listening, forgiveness, generosity, truth-seeking, and hope. We ought to pray for and make room for more friendships with people who aren’t of our same political ideology and upbringing. We must become a bridge for Police Officers and urban community members to listen to each other, break bread together, and form lasting relationships. We must open up our church buildings as spaces for reconciliation to take place, life on life.
Those that are just living as the Wounded Ones will unintentionally pour gasoline on the fire that is the crisis in our nation currently. Those that are committed to the life of the Reconciler will participate in the Kingdom of God, showing up in places where it’s so needed right now.