Paul’s idea of reconciliation is the creation of a new relationship between God and humans. It is not the restoration of an old relationship, but the implementation of something wholly new. Humanity’s old relationship with God had clearly failed – where God’s people followed God’s laws with the spirit of caring for one another – old and young, poor and rich, disabled and abled. Sin, greed, misunderstanding, and time drove a wedge between God and God’s people. Jesus came to bring God’s people into a shiny, new relationship as they had never seen before. In this new relationship, God and God’s people shared in the glory of the riches of heaven and earth – riches such as love, faith, hope, and joy. In this new relationship, nothing separates God from God’s people, not even sin or death.
People often feel a distance between themselves and God. Such a distancing is not God’s doing. Many things can distract us from experiencing full communion with God. Even in these times, God does not give up on us. Sometimes it is as simple as asking to feel God’s presence. Other times it is more difficult and painful – a time of turmoil and waiting. But even when we don’t feel God’s presence, God hasn’t abandoned us. Those times of distance and waiting can often bring us into a stronger, more mature understanding of God and how God’s world works.
My father, now in his 70’s, doesn’t understand why people would get tattoos. He thinks that, since tattoos are permanent, people should be careful about what they write on their bodies. What if, down the road, your life perspective changes, and you don’t want that tattoo anymore? It’s too late. It’s permanently marked on your body. His value system prefers to put past mistakes behind him and move on into the future.
Younger generations, however, have a different value system. They believe that the mistakes of the past have helped shape who they have become. Their tattoos tell the story of their lives. Instead of looking on their past with shame, they see the learning and growth that has come because of their mistakes.
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences.
We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.