For all but the hardest hearts among us, a story of a close relationship that has gone wrong stirs up sadness. True accounts of such stories sell magazines and tabloids. Fictional accounts of such stories sell books and movie tickets. We mourn when we hear such stories. Somewhere, deep in the recesses of the human heart is a tiny hope, a yearning for a restoration. We hope that, somehow, there might be a restoration of relationship. We yearn to hear of reconciliation.
When a close bond is broken, whether it is between husband and wife or between parent and child, it can be especially heart-wrenching. Love, which once connected two people together, can turn into a perverted and twisted kind of intimate disgust. The closeness once shared between the two people can morph into a partnership of mutual hostility. Respect and concern warp into distain and indifference. When that occurs, the seeds of forgiveness can take no root in hearts hardened by long-sustained bitterness. The hope that there one day may be harmony or restoration seems to be banished forever to the realm of the impossible.
Sometimes, the only hope for reconciliation is that one person may choose to radically alter the pattern. One person must decide to give up his rights to retaliation or vengeance. One person must take all the blame and guilt of the failed relationship, even if it means accepting the blame due to the other. One must choose to make the peace.
When Adam sinned, the once-intimate relationship he had to God was perverted into a twisted kind of intimate disgust. The closeness he had with God was converted to hostility. The respect he had for his Creator warped into distain and indifference. Because of Adam’s sin, the whole human race– and the creation over which we were given authority (see Gen. 1:26, 1:28)– turned away from obeying and seeking God into a pattern of rebellion. Over time, humanity increasingly cultivated a bitterness and hardness of heart towards God, and all of the creation which was mankind’s dominion became cursed (see Gen. 3:17).
Into this true story, Christ came, as the only hope for reconciliation…
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. -Colossians 1:19-20
God saw that the only hope for reconciliation was for Him to choose to radically alter the pattern. Thus, God came, in the Person of Jesus Christ, into His Creation, to become the hope for reconciliation.
God took on the form of one of His creatures. It was His choice, His desire, His pleasure to do so. He chose to lower Himself and become flesh and blood, and live among His creatures (see John 1:14). Yet, in that flesh and blood, in that Jesus Christ, all the complete goodness, purity, holiness, justness, love, and mercy of the living God lived.
Through Christ and His work, God gave up His rights to retaliation and vengeance against His rebellious creatures. He knew that His creatures, the men and women who rebelled against Him, would be unable to return or match His earnest yearning to restore His relationship to them. He would have to give to them the reconciliation that they were unwilling and powerless to seek or gain from Him.
It pleased God to make peace with His creation. It pleased Him to do this through the physical things in His creation. It pleased Him to use the blood of a Man, the blood of Christ. He chose to use the blood that coursed through the body that He inhabited when He came into His creation. It pleased Him to use the death of a Man, the death of Christ on the cross. He chose to use that instrument of torture and death to take upon Himself the retaliation and vengeance due His rebellious creatures.
In Christ, God chose to take upon Himself the guilt and blame of His creatures, even though the estrangement between God and His creatures was due to their guilt.
The hope of reconciliation with God, purchased by God through the blood and cross of Christ, is the hope of all who see the work of God in Christ and turn to Him in faith. Look now at what God has done in Christ, and be reconciled to Him.
Because of what He has done, let us strive to live as those who have been reconciled to God. Let us live as those who have a restored and renewed relationship with Him. As Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (ESV)