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Selfless Reconciliation

Who are you? Who, who, who who? Who are you? Who, who, who who?1 You don’t have to have been around in 1978 to be familiar with these classic rock lyrics and the tune that etched them onto our long-term memory banks. Thanks to the band, The Who (who else?!?), millions of people have rhythmically asked billions of times: “Who are you?” Now, we can remain in the same rhetorical refrain for another 40 years if we wish—content to question identity and purpose—or we can flourish in the answer. For the apostle Paul shows us that, for anyone who is in Christ, there clearly is an answer.

Well, who are you?1 You are new—your sin defines you no longer! “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”2 We shrug off our shame once and for all and live this life in freedom!

I really wanna know.1 You are reconciled to God—completely forgiven and entirely restored to peace in His presence. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ … not counting [people’s] sins against them.”3 We cease our striving; we rest in renewed relationship.

Tell me, who are you?1 You are the righteousness of God. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”4 Jesus, who knew no sin, took upon Himself our sin, which we could not bear; then uniting us with Himself and living in us, He gave us His righteousness, which we could not earn. (Martin Luther called this “the great exchange.”) We humble ourselves in awe before such an indescribable gift and such a selfless Giver.

‘Cause I really wanna know.1 You are an ambassador, for God reaches people through people. “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”5 And here is our message to millions who “really wanna know”—through faith in Christ, you, too, can be new, reconciled and, yes, righteous through the selfless grace of God.

Who’s next?

Father, I cannot begin to imagine the depth of your love or the cost of my reconciliation. Grace me to flourish in your forgiveness and to be a selfless ambassador of your truth and grace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is peace.

1 Townshend, Peter. (1978). Who Are You [Lyrics]. Retrieved from https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/who/whoareyou.htm
2 2 Corinthians 5:17
3 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19a
4 3 Corinthians 5:21
5 2 Corinthians 5:19b, 20

See today’s Scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.

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Selfless Restoration

During my college years I would occasionally pick up some spending money working for a dealer in European antiques. Most of my duties entailed delivering high-valued pieces to well-healed clients, and occasionally I would do whatever chores needed to be done around the store. One day, I noticed on the workbench several small, brass boxes buried amid the clutter. Embossed on their lids was a portrait of a woman and the decorative patterns that encircled her profile; though dulled by years of neglect, these artifacts were nonetheless compelling. The shop owner explained to me that these were cigarette boxes Princess Mary had given to British troops at Christmastime 1914, the first year of “the Great War.” Hers was the portrait that adorned the lids amid their ornate designs.

“If I clean all of these up, may I buy one?” I asked the owner. He agreed, so I went to work, removing tarnish from brass, including the green patina burrowed deep into the crevices of each relief, until every piece came alive again, restored to its former splendor. So stunning was the transformation that the owner would gift these formerly forgotten relics to his most elite clients—all, that is, except the one antique box my mother opened that Christmas morning.

As beautiful as these polished pieces emerged from their cleansing, we are restored to God in infinitely greater brilliance and immeasurably higher value. The apostle Paul tells us that God “has reconciled [us] by Christ’s physical body through death to present [us] holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation …”1 Holy, without blemish, and free—stop and soak this in, for it is who we are, and it is who we are becoming, for “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things … by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”2 Then more majestic than the likeness of any earthly sovereign, the image eternally embossed on us is that of Christ, who is “the image of the invisible God,”3 for we are “being transformed into [the Lord’s] likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord.”4

So what remains for us but to carry “the message of reconciliation”5 God has committed to us? For just as God, in Christ, has removed the tarnish from our souls, so also does He long to restore everyone to His image in ever-increasing glory and brilliance. May no one be lost amid the clutter.

Father, you have reconciled me to yourself; how can I ever thank you enough? Use me to bring the hope of reconciliation to others, so that precious, living treasures would be rescued from amid the clutter of this world and restored to splendor in the image of your Son. In Jesus I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is peace.

1 Colossians 1:22
2 Colossians 1:19, 20
3 Colossians 1:15
4 2 Corinthians 3:1
5 2 Corinthians 5:19

Read today’s Scripture in Colossians 1:15-23.

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Ascending into Unity

I haven’t lived in too many places in my life—started out in Cheboygan, Michigan and ended up making Columbus, Ohio my home. With the exception of three years in North Central Ohio, that’s been about it. It was in Columbus, then, that I found the perfect residence, and I’ve lived there ever since. It’s a special place, peaceful and secure as advertised, but what makes it unique is the neighbors—they’re amazing. Let me tell you about them.

Where I live, you will find liberals, conservatives, progressives, socialists and even communists. In this place, I’ve met several people from Africa, Asia, the U.S., of course, and if I can just get out more, I know I’ll meet denizens from other continents, too. People from an impressive array of religious backgrounds—Catholics, Protestants, Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims and Jews—have departed from their points of origin and made this their home. Could there possibly be more diversity in one spot? Yet, despite our countless differences, we just love living here, and I’m quite certain none of us are inclined to move away. Ever.

Where is this place? Perhaps by now you’ve figured it out. We live in Christ. “Abide in me,”1 Jesus said, and from a demographic matrix of inestimable dimension, people have traveled countless life highways to this eternal Abode, dropped their bags and called Him, “home.” Then after a while, we all discover with wide-eyed wonder the same thing: in Christ, diversity ascends into unity. “There is one body and one Spirit … one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”2 Thus united, we go forward as the body of Christ, individually gifted and corporately bound in the Spirit of peace, together thriving in singularity of purpose—to bring glory to God.

There are many in this world who—through a cynical or perhaps naïve regard for diversity—would exploit people’s differences and pit us against each other toward destruction. And it is easy to allow our divergent views on earthly issues to distract us from the oneness we share in Christ and the work He calls us to do together. Could there be a more diabolical distortion of God’s design? God did not create our differences so as to divide us; rather, He honors the uniqueness of each of us as He builds us into something greater than all of us. Wrote Paul, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it,”3

So, let us resist the temptations that would divide and dissuade us and, instead, remember who we are—the body of Christ—and where we live, in Him. Each of us is in this with all of us.

Father, in your unsearchable wisdom, you made us different, not to divide all of us but to honor each of us as we take our place in the body of Christ. Grace us to value each other as you do and to unite as one Church in Him. In His name, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is peace.

1 John 15:4
2 Ephesians 4:4-7
3 1 Corinthians 12:27

Read today’s Scripture in Ephesians 4:1-16.