In the days ahead, after the recounts and the legal challenges, one of the candidates for President will carry the requisite 270 electoral college votes and win the election. At that same time, approximately seventy million voters will be, to some degree, delighted with the outcome and a similar number of voters will be, also to some degree, disappointed. In many states, the margin for victory has been razor thin and large sections of our country are no longer ‘red’ or ‘blue’, but shades of ‘purple’ instead. Whoever is inaugurated next January, he deserves our prayers.
Where do we go from here? I believe this is a time for practicing the biblical behavior of reconciliation. Reconciliation, when mentioned in the Scriptures, is found in the Greek term καταλλάσσω (katallássō) which means “to change completely toward agreement”. Having an accountant at home, I know that the most common contemporary connection to reconciliation is related to the balancing financial records (i.e. to change the books to establish an agreement among diverse categories). But the words of God represent a deeper level of agreement amidst diversity: the positive, complete change in relationships between rivals.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
The process of reconciliation begins and ends with our relationship with God. Despite the fact that we willfully and intentionally deviated from God’s desire, by actively sinning against Him, He has changed completely our relationship through Christ, not counting those sins against us. (Please note that there is no mention of excusing or eliminating those sins, nor that those sins were no longer grievously offensive.) God moved us from His ledger of opponents to His ledger of friends, based solely on the actions of Christ. This is the first step of reconciliation: to know ourselves, in Christ, as a friend of God.
Once we have accepted our new position in Christ, we can move to the second part of reconciliation, namely that God has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, God has bestowed upon His friends that privilege of inviting others into God’s friend group, all on the basis of the actions of Christ. In this ministry, we are welcoming mutual friends to share in the celebration. Our shared relationship with God creates a shared relationship with one another, regardless of the diversity we express in our words and experiences. We are able to befriend one another because we have a friend in Jesus.
This ministry of reconciliation is what we need right now. Instead of dwelling on what divides us, we can rejoice in what unites us. Instead of debating policies and positions, we could work together to defeat societal ills we all abhor. Now is the time to focus on what we agree upon. Now is time to cultivate the mutual friendships we have through Christ. As we gather before the presence of God, we can share in the things we hold together: that we all have struggles, that we all have pains, that we all have gifts and that we all need love.
Now is the time to work together and trust Christ to heal what divides us.