Ministry of Reconciliation

I’ve been kind of beating around the bush about the doctrine of the incarnation and what it means as a challenge to Christians. So let’s get down to business.

The roots of my view here are in the two commands of Jesus–love for God and love for one’s neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40). These commands are defined by the way in which God acts towards us (1 John 4:10-11). God carries out the intent of the two commands from his perspective as we are to do from ours. That’s God’s end of the incarnation–God love, God sent, God saved.

But there’s another element: God challenged. While this idea is rooted in the teachings of Jesus, I think it is best summarized in the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. I’m going to summarize even more. “God was in Christ” is the incarnation. Through the incarnation God crossed the gap from the infinite to the finite in the incarnation. That act reconciled God and humanity, that is, it brought us together. Then God gave us the work and the principle (word) of reconciliation. That’s the challenge.

When Jesus said, “Love one another just as I have loved you,” (John 15:12) he passes on that challenge to us.

Now for many Christians, possessing the “correct” doctrine of the incarnation is part of what makes us special. It’s what gives us–people who believe in Jesus–the exclusive hold on salvation. And I do, indeed, believe that it was the incarnation that made salvation possible; even better, it showed that it was possible by showing that God could and would indeed cross the boundary between the finite and the infinite, and would do so both ways. It showed that God would become kin to finite and imperfect human beings (Hebrews 2:10).

But does that really make us “special” as compared to all other people? I think what it does is make us challenged. We are challenged to love in the way that God loved. That means that we need to become gap-jumpers. To love as God does, we need to recognize that there is no gap that cannot be crossed, and that we are called to cross those gaps. Jesus was a reconciler and God has called on the followers of Jesus to be reconcilers–gap jumpers.

And that’s the other end of the incarnation.

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