Reconciliation: The Mark of a Believer
“Respect what is right... and, if possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Romans 12:16-18
One of the oldest strategies of the devil is to divide and conquer. Families are weaker when they are divided. Churches are weaker when they are divided. Nations are weaker when they are divided. Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). Division precedes destruction.
While the enemy’s strategy includes division and destruction, the Lord’s antidote includes unity and reconciliation. His followers, His ambassadors, are to be agents of peace. Through us, God is “making an appeal to be reconciled to Him” and to each other (2 Cor. 5:20). But what exactly does that entail?
First, we must be at peace with God ourselves. The most important step we can take in our relationship with others is to grow in our relationship with the Lord. We cannot be at war with God and at peace with others, and we cannot be at war with others and be at peace with God. Our relationship with one affects our relationship with the other.
Second, agents of peace must view people with the Lord’s eyes. All people are valuable image-bearers of God, worthy of respect and dignity. We must avoid the sins of stereotyping, prejudging, and showing favoritism, but rather deal with people as individuals, seeking justice for all while being partial to none (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; James 2:9).
Third, we must “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Mark 12:31) and “treat them the way we want to be treated” (Matt. 7:12). Agents of peace must have the attitude of Christ and “do nothing from selfishness or conceit but, with humility, regard others as more important than themselves” (Phil. 2:3, 4). We must be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). We must use our words to build up rather than tear down, to edify and encourage rather than wound and offend (Eph. 4:29).
Fourth, we must remember that all people are sinners in need of grace, including us. No one is good except for God. Sooner or later, each of us will err and hurt someone. Each of us will require tolerance, love, and forgiveness. Thus, we must deal with others in the same way, “with humility and gentleness, with patience and forbearance, being diligent to preserve unity” (Eph. 4:2, 3).
Finally, agents of peace must focus their attention on that which unites, not on that which divides. The enemy emphasizes differences, but the Lord emphasizes commonality – our common humanity, our common equality, our common faith, our common citizenship. Diversity must be embraced, as it reflects the creative genius of God; but unity with diversity brings Him glory. We are not to be conformed to one another’s image but rather to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).
Agents of God do not succumb to the divisive, destructive methods of the world but “shod their feet with the Gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). By doing so, we will be used by God to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.
Lord, I desire to be an agent of peace. “Search me and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there be any hurtful way in me.” (Ps. 139:23, 24). Show me the error of my ways and renew a right spirit within me. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight” (Ps. 19:14). May others see in me the kindness and forgiveness of Christ. Use me, O God, to reconcile others to You and to each other.