How to be Ministers of Reconciliation
By Fr. Daniel Pinell
I confess: I have always been conflict-avoidant. Conflict gives me anxiety. As someone who cares about relationships, I’m afraid that conflicts will ultimately ruin my relationships. I am hesitant to offend people, partly because I know how I have been wounded in the past by people with unkind words.
Talking to other people, I know I’m not the only one. Many of us rather stay silent than have difficult conversations. Many of us desire peace and are willing to suffer injustices to avoid conflict, in the name of maintaining the peace.
And yet, I realize that peace can only come through reconciliation. “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” says Jesus in Matthew 5:9, “for they shall be called children of God.” Peacemakers are people who actively go where conflict is, put themselves in the middle to end quarrels. Peacemakers are not conflict-avoidant. They don’t avoid conflict to keep the peace. They are peacemakers, not peacekeepers.
And Jesus, the son of God, is the ultimate peacekeeper. He put Himself in the middle, by dying on the cross, to reconcile us to the Father. Paul expands on this fact and its ramifications for us:
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: 18-20.
God is reconciling the world, a world who is in enmity with God and His ways, in Christ. Through His sacrifice, God is reconciling us to the Father. Reconciliation is a risky and at times deadly endeavor. But as peacemakers, God is “entrusting to us the message of reconciliation”, making us “ambassadors for Christ.”
What a great privilege we have to be entrusted to this message of reconciliation! And also, what a somber reminder we have in Christ that this ministry is not to be engaged in lightly, but can have deadly consequences for us. Following our crucified Lord is not a safe journey. It demands great risk. It requires us to surrender completely to God. It is a great and terrifying privilege at the same time.
But this world needs peacemakers. This world is in desperate need of ambassadors of Christ, those willing to take on the risky mantle of ministers of reconciliation. God is calling us to go where the conflict is, and bring the message of reconciliation that will end quarrels and conflicts, many times at our own expense.
If you are concerned about the state of things in our country and around the world, if you are wary of the increasing polarization of warring and irreconcilable ideologies, if you are worried at how the enemy is winning the battle for division among us, realize that there can be no peace with reconciliation. Unity without risky reconciliation is a delusion. God is calling His people to be ministers of reconciliation. Would you be willing to take up this dangerous role? I pray God gives us the strength to respond to God’s calling.