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Dr. Shield's Blog

The Heart of the Christian Life

"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" (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).  

In the Gospel of John, when John the Baptist sees Jesus, he says, "Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"  This is John's narrative way of expressing the truth proclaimed by Paul:  "in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them."  In his infinitely sacrificial love, God takes away our sin through the death of his Son on the cross.  To where does he take our sin?  Into Christ, and so into his own heart.  Reconciliation is costly.  

Whatever else Paul is saying when he speaks about a "new creation" in Christ, he means that God is eternally inviting us into a reconciled relationship with God and into reconciliation with one another.  Through Christ, God is constantly "taking away the sin of the world," that is, extending his grace to us.    

To be drawn into this "new creation" in Christ,  "through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2), means that we are called into a "cruciform" life ourselves.  Since the heart of the meaning of the cross is reconciliation between God and us, then the heart of the Christian life is the pursuit of reconciliation and peace between us and our fellow human beings.  This is the practical expression of the love of God between us.  1 John 4:11 puts it simply: "Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another."  

The season of Lent provides a wonderful opportunity to experience -- and then to practice -- the costly love of God that leads to reconciliation.  Share in worship and in the other spiritual practices that can help you to trust in God's grace for you.  Then, ask God to help you see where you need to seek genuine reconciliation with someone.  Reconciliation is costly, but it leads us into the heart of God.  This is the essence of Jesus' invitation: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, will save it" (Mark 8:34-35).  

Grace and peace,

Bob Shield  

P.S. Invite a friend to worship this Sunday!  I will be away praying for you on my Lenten Prayer Retreat, and Rev. W. C. Hall will be preaching on John 10:1-10, "I am the Good Shepherd."

Posted by Bob Shield at 9:30 AM