Jesus ended people's alienation from God by serving as the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus ended alienation from God for all those who trust his mediation. What results when alienation is destroyed? Ending alienation produces reconciliation. The parties that were separated by alienation establish a new relationship in reconciliation.
Perhaps a clear way to illustrate this trust is by a marriage relationship. A man and woman committed to each other as husband and wife were consensually bonded by their love for one another. One of them allowed something to replace his/her love and commitment in the relationship with enmity. He/she forces a separation. Though one continued to love and did not want separation, their relationship could not endure through the love of one person. As a consequence, separation occurred. Though the loving one wanted reconciliation, the rebellious one did not. Separation became alienation. Alienation generated feelings of injustice and hostility. The alienated couple could not even communicate in an understanding manner.
A mediator [counselor] was invited into the situation. Through his/her guidance [with time], hostility became tolerance, tolerance became understanding, and understanding became respect. New relationship skills were learned. Positive old relationship skills were resurrected. True communication was restored and advanced. Forgiveness was a part of the new respect. The combination of hope and respect gave birth to a renewed love. Alienation ended. Reconciliation began. Reconciliation was the gift of love. Though it was a gift, this gift brought responsibilities.
Consider Jesus as the means of our reconciliation to God.
Please note these statements Paul made to the Christians in Rome. (1) Before they desired reconciliation, while they were God's enemies, God through Jesus' death paid the price that made reconciliation possible. Through Jesus' death, God destroyed the hostility produced by human rebellion. [God does not hate humans. God hates the evil that produces human alienation.] Humanity could not destroy the consequence of their rebellion against God. (2) Jesus' resurrection provided the power for reconciliation. Jesus' resurrected life is the source of Christian spiritual life. (3) Note the contrast: Jesus' death destroyed the hostility; Jesus' resurrection empowered reconciliation to give life. (4) Conclusion: God will do even more for those who accept reconciliation than for those who were His enemies. Thus, confidence increased in God's salvation for people who accept reconciliation through Jesus' resurrection. It is this contrast: "If God was this good to us when we hated Him, He is even better to us when we accept reconciliation." He did not make it simple for people to return to Him in order to make it hard for them to stay with Him. (5) Therefore Christians euphorically rejoice in God as they understand what God did in Jesus' death and Jesus' resurrection. They continue to accept God's incredible gift of reconciliation with a growing awareness and joy.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Please note Paul's statements to the Christians in Corinth. (1) Reconciliation, produced by being in Christ, produces a new life. This new life was expressed in the existence of a new creature who was motivated by a new understanding of future things [resurrection's joys rather than death's anguish]. Reconciliation produced new life, and new life produced a new being. (2) This was all possible because of God's reconciliation produced through Jesus Christ. God gave Paul and his company the responsibility of sharing the news of God's reconciliation. (3) As Jesus Christ's ambassadors, Paul begged the Christians at Corinth to place full confidence in God's reconciliation. (4) They were to understand that God made Jesus to be sin [in his death] in order for them to become God's righteousness.
Their confidence was to be in what God did through Christ, not in themselves.
Please note Paul's statements to the Christians at Ephesus. (1) God used Jesus' blood to destroy the alienation separating Jews from people who were not Jews. One's heritage no longer was significant to God. (2) Jesus produced peace between all people by being God's price to destroy the hostility caused by human rebellion. God used Jesus to make this peace possible (a) by eliminating the enmity produced by Jewish ordinances and (b) by reconciling both to God through Jesus' death. (3) God combined all into one people. Jesus' death produced the death of the enmity that separated Jewish people from people who were not Jews. [Is it not interesting that the hostility that separated people from God also separated people from people?] (4) Jesus came to declare peace could exist between all people and God. Jesus' death allowed God's Spirit to exist in anyone who accepted God's reconciliation. To God, there were no Jewish Christians and non-Jewish Christians, or circumcised Christians and uncircumcised Christians, or Christians converted from Judaism and Christians converted from paganism, or Christians who had scripture for generations and Christians who never had scripture. They were simply people who accepted reconciliation. (5) Reconciliation did not make Christians culturally identical. It did not stress structures that emphasized identical forms in spiritual practices. Reconciliation produced peace with God through Jesus' resurrection because all were built on the same spiritual foundation. (6) Collectively, reconciliation fashioned them into God's temple. As God's temple, they must realize God's presence existed in them through the indwelling of God's Spirit.
Please note Paul's statements to the Christians at Colossae. (1) God the Father, Himself of His desire, placed divine completeness [fullness] in Jesus. (2) The objective of Jesus having the divine completeness was to extend reconciliation to all people. (3) The sacrifice of Jesus' dying blood produced a comprehensive peace in all spheres of existence. (4) Alienation from God was characterized by (a) hostile thinking and (b) evil behavior. (5) Even though hostile thinking toward God and evil behavior controlled people, God created the potential for reconciliation for all through Jesus' death for a reason. God wanted people who were hostile thinkers who behaved wickedly to accept reconciliation's responsibilities--to become holy, unblemished people dedicated to an existence that an evil world could not ignore. (6) That would happen if they firmly rooted their faith in the hope of the good news of God's offer of reconciliation through Christ.
Question for reflection: what thoughts in this lesson do you find most challenging?
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 7
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