Gospel of Reconciliation: In the midst of human conflicts.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation”.   1 Corinthians 5:17-19  .


From the streets of Jerusalem to the palaces across the world, the Gospel of Christ have come a long way. From being a voice that cried out amidst the oppression of the establishment to being the establishment itself, it has truly went through so many changes. From the rule of Empires to modern day democracies it had remained through multiple governing systems. Did the message of the Gospel stay relevant through the times? Does it still appeal to a hurting and broken world?

To some its a myth, to some its just delusion, to some its a tool of control, to some its against logic, to some its just regressive, to some its anti-human rights, to some its just another religious propaganda, to some its still unknown, to some its just a belief, and to some its the truth upon which life exists. It is in the midst of these choices that Gospel in our everyday life is trying to make sense. What is the Gospel’s response to the issues, the world is facing today? to the problems communities go through? to the never ending challenges people of this world part of ? As people who carry the Gospel in to this world, we truly carry a great responsibility. And without God’s help this work is impossible!

‘Gospel’ means ‘Good News’. The word has its roots from the Greek word ‘euangelion’ , what we famously call ‘Evangelism’ in English. Its called Good News because the advent of Lord Jesus Christ has a Message of Hope through Love for all mankind. The message of Jesus Christ offers transformation to a suffering world, and his life and message is termed as the Gospel. Hence the Gospel is God’s solution to humanity which suffers with problems due to its fallen nature, which is evident in all walks of our lives. Gospel is a call given to all men of every differences this world could offer to reconcile, to Belong, and to become a New creation!

Reconciliation with God:

In the Gospel lies God’s desire for reconciliation with all men, and what he  accomplished by sending his Son Jesus to this broken world. According to the Gospel, every human reconciliation hinges on the foundation of this divine reconciliation between God and Man.

Who is a sinner? Isn’t the one who doesn’t belong, the one who is lost, the one who is astray and the one to be reonciled?

“The Son of man, came to seek and save the lost” Luke 19:10.

The Gospel also shares how God reconciled men back to him. So the origins of this good news is from the depths of God’s nature.

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”. 1 Timothy 2: 3 & 4.

It doesn’t stop with that, The Bible also says in the above theme verse from 1 Corinthians 5, that ‘he has committed to us the message of reconciliation’. The Gospel is the message of reconciliation God has committed unto us, it is our foremost job to take this message wherever we go, and whatever we do. It becomes  our primary mission.

Forgiveness: @ The He’art’ of reconciliation :

“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity”. Ephesians 2:14-16.

Reconciliation cannot take place without forgiveness and kindness. So the heart of the Gospel is forgiveness. It is not a compromise of the truth, but a conviction on which the entire faith is laid out. ‘He did not count people’s sins against them’ ( 1 Corinthians 5 : 19), ‘that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross’ (Ephesians 2:16), so both the above mentioned verses points that both reconciliation, the one between God and men, and the one between men and men cannot happen apart from forgiveness. The cross of Christ is the hope of forgiveness of sins, and the only way to perfect reconciliation of all that was lost and torn apart. Jesus said

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:32.

God’s forgiveness offered through the Gospel flows through the humanity, to wipe its traces of enmity to become one new man, one flock under one eternal shepherd, Lord Jesus Christ.

“…..and there shall be one flock and one shepherd”. John 10:16.

Unforgiveness have torn apart individuals, families, communities and world at large. The Gospel offers hope through reconciliation on the grounds of God’s forgiveness, and forgiveness between one another. The kindness of God is revealed through the Gospel. Reconciliation cannot happen on the grounds of revenge, how many times in the history that the so called carriers and guardians of the Gospel resorted to revenge and missed the glorious opportunity of reconciliation. No culture or a person is outside God’s forgiveness. He got the whole world in his hands!

Conflicts out of differences:

Not only enmity, but reconciliation is also relevant to our differences. There are also conflicts out of differences which has evolved through time. We have a world filled with varieties, and to bring together such a vast group of contrasts that exists in the world under one Gospel is an extraordinary task.

We have differences in culture, ethnicity, language, beliefs and values, geography, history to name a few and there are gender differences, age differences and generational differences making this world more complex and robust. These differences often leads to dangerous conflicts, which even leads to enmity. We have seen the world struggle with such conflicts out of differences. It is in this complex premises the Gospel has to travel and reconcile all men to God.

These differences are well explained by Christianity Today magazine on contextualization through the following words of Harvie M. Conn,

We use the term ‘culture’ to refer to the common ideas, feelings, and values that guide community and personal behavior, that organize and regulate what the group thinks, feels, and does about God, the world, and humanity. It explains why the Sawi people of Irian Jaya regard betrayal as a virtue, while the American sees it as a vice. It undergirds the Korean horror at the idea of Westerners’ placing their elderly parents in retirement homes, and Western horror at the idea of the Korean veneration of their ancestors. It is the climate of opinion that encourages an Eskimo to share his wife with a guest and hides the wife of an Iranian fundamentalist Muslim in a body-length veil. The closest New Testament approximation for culture is kosmos (world), but only when it refers to language-bound, organized human life (1 Cor. 14:10) or the sin-contaminated system of values, traditions, and social structures of which we are a part (John 17:11).

Interesting isn’t it? This definition gives the leverage to bring all these differences under one umbrella called ‘Culture’.

Culture and its Context:

Culture is basically the expression of our beliefs, but also influenced by the beliefs of others. History and geography has a role to play in it. The various conquests of empires in the history and the nature of geography have influenced communities across the world to develop a culture. Who can forget the role of trade and commerce in influencing a culture. There is also religion that strongly influences a culture, we can also say many religions birthed out of a particular culture. As culture itself refers to cosmos, it is a deep and vast area, which can only give us ideas but not definite conclusions. The one thing we can definitely say is that a belief is behind a culture, and an identity that comes out of a culture.

Since culture includes every other differences, it’s wise to consolidate it under the broader idea of culture. This includes faith, food habits, lifestyle, social system, family system, language,religious practices, law and so on…

The most important aspect of a culture in the context of the Gospel is the issue of morality found in different culture, and the normalized version of sin in those cultures. Some traditions in culture enrich human life, or just respresnt their identity, but some are sinful which destroys human life or devalues it. This is the major issue many missionary movements faced, they had the challenge of convincing the many tribes across the world, that their habits which evolved out of their culture is sinful. They had to confront head on with some of the issues like cannibalism, child sacrifice, female infanticide,and Sati.

We can also differentiate culture in to local culture ( which is to a particular area or region, essentially tribal) , global culture (which is universal) as well as personal culture ( individual preferences).

Local culture is the culture of a particular region, tribe or a people groups.

I will just give an example of this at the local level , where a young boy who accepted Christ, faces the the fear of rejection from his village community, because of caste system in India, his community doesn’t accept those who follow Jesus since they see him only belong to a particular group of people, though many have an inner desire, they are not able to freely express. In another village, their occupation for generations was liqour making, so both men and women know how to make liquor and they drink liqour like water. It was a struggle to leave behind the occupation and find an alternative one, but slowly and steadily the seeds of the Gospel is changing their lives.

These differences in the culture certainly becomes a conflict, and the Gospel has to make it’s impact through these conflicts. And the result of all the missionary movements is a testament to the fact that the Gospel has made great inroads in many cultures, in eradicating wrong and sinful practices.

The global culture deals with conquests, race and ethnicity. The ever changing world was modified by global power and its influence. Persian, Greeks, Romans and Arabs made several impacts around the world with the spread of their culture, and later the European empires. The Emergence of British empires around the world, also promoted Judeo-Christian law system of governance, and later when democracy became the norm, each Nation imparted and integrated the elements of their own social law in to it. Especially the conflict between the Judeo-Christian law system and Sharia law is visble in various places even now.

Racial issue too is part of a global culture emerged out of migration due to various issues , where the the culture of oppression and discrimination is visible even in many developed countries. There is always the marginalized and the discriminated fighting for their rights. The recent incidents in US and across the world is testament to such conflict.

Religions, models of Government and political system play an important role in the global culture. Atheism too has impact on many cultures. Science and Technology becoming a part of a Global culture, and it plays major role in social and political transactions across the world.

All these issues in global culture brings a lot of conflicts across the globe. In the past as the Jews were against the influence of Greek Hellenist culture, then the Arabs were averse to the Roman culture. Now we have power struggles across the Globe on the basis of culture.

Finally the Personal culture, every local and global culture is part of a personal choice, some have the freedom to make it and some don’t. These are individual or personal preferences, the lifestyle choices of a person. Especially the issues of right to choose in terms of individual freedom. This phenomenon is seen across individuals from different local and global cultures. The issue of Homosexuality, live in relationships, abortion, alcoholism and many other issues creating conflicts everywhere.

In the midst of these cultural conflicts Gospel has to reach such differences and bring people of all backgrounds to reconciliation under one God and Saviour Jesus Christ our Lord. Though it seems challenging, it is not impossible!

Spiritual Gospel vs Social Gospel : Does Contextualization really work?

The bigger question that grappled mission leaders and theologians alike for centuries which still has inconclusive arguments, on whether the Gospel has to adapt different cultures present in the world, or those cultures need to completely adapt to the culture of those who propogate the Gospel.  In the process of this exchange, the institutions of the Gospel had been westernized, easternized, paganized, modernised and Globalized. The standarization of the Gospel is possible, only when its culturally acceptable, spiritually possible, and scripturally relevant. In the name contextualization, which is to make the Gospel adapt to the culture of the recipients, many compromise has been made which diluted the truth, and resulted in spiritual vaccum. So the question travels further towards viewing the ‘One Gospel’ as Spiritual and Social Gospel. I strongly stay away from such hypothesis, it is like saying just because I use the right hand more often, I don’t need the left.

I believe ‘Jesus led a spiritual reformation towards a social transformation’. It not only changes a person, but also a community, and the evils of a society. If the spirituality of the Gospel makes us so immune to the social needs around us, it becomes irrelevant. At the same time, if our Gospel is only society focused and not on unalterable truth or spirit focused. It loses its purpose. We got to hold the two ropes together. I recently heard from someone who worked greatly with the society for many years, feeling very unsatisfied that they were not able to make impact spiritually, which holds everything together. As the spirit holds a person together, the spirituality of the Gospel must hold the society to transformative growth.

We must apply ‘Careful contextualization’ when it comes to this, we cannot completely bulldoze every cultural symbols which has been associated with any society. There would be many healthy good, positive values and traditions that would be present in any culture, and we must embrace it, but any contextualization which disturbs the truth and spirit of the Gospel should be avoided graciously!

The process of contextualization takes these facts about culture into account. It involves “presenting the unchanging truths of the gospel within the unique and changing contexts of cultures and worldviews.” Dan Gilliland offers a full definition of contextualization. He defines contextualization as a tool “to enable, insofar as it is humanly possible, an understanding of what it means that Jesus Christ, the Word, is authentically experienced in each and every human situation.” Such a tool is necessary because “while the human condition and the gospel remain the same, people have different worldviews which in turn impact how they interpret themselves, the world and the things you say.”

Contextualization, then, is simply about sharing the Gospel well. Those who deliberately practice the process of contextualization desire to have an element of intentionality in their Gospel sharing; they desire to share the Gospel in way that is most relevant to the culture they are addressing ( What is Contextualization? Presenting the Gospel in Culturally Relevant Ways, by ED Stetzer)

There is no better way to put this up, the changing culture should not influence the unchanging Gospel. The Gospel has the grace to bend, but its not a conspiracy to mend. The person is more important than his belongings. A diluted Gospel for the sake of contextualization is like killing the chicken because it gives less number of eggs than anticipated.

Contextualization alone does not promote or sufficiently address the need or reconciliation amidst the cultural conflicts. The values of the Gospel and the power of its spirit is the key to transformation. It can just be an effective tool…

The Early Church and the Apostles :

The Spiritual Gospel vs Social Gospel duality should end when we look carefully at how the early Apostolic Church handled the cultural conflicts of their time.

Eventhough Jesus preached his sermons and taught the disciples the truth’s of the Gospel, with the example of culture present around him, He didn’t try to take a comprehensive lecture on contextualization before his ascension, and before sending his disciples to the uttermost parts of this earth. He asked them to wait in Jerusalem, for the promised Holy Spirit. The purpose behind the life, death and resurrection of Christ constitutes the conscience of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit confirms the Gospel of Christ, and convicts a person of his sins in response to the Gospel.

This was said of the Holyspirit by Jesus himself,

“When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment. John 16:8.

The conviction of the Holyspirit leads men to Repentance, so the Gospel of the Apostles and the Early Church was based on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus also said,

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come”. John 16:13.

So the Holy Spirit leads us in to all truth, which means it not only lead men to the reconciliation of the Gospel, but also reform a person or a society according to the truths of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit is the agent of reconciliation in the midst of all conflicts. It is the transformative power of the Holy Spirit which the early Church stood upon.

The oneness, acts of kindness, miraculous signs and wonders, sacrificial love became the binding factor or the bridge which connected the gaps which was found between the early Church and the Society.

Even the timeline confirms this, the following Revelation can be interesting and can solidify the role of the Holy Spirit towards reconciliation.

First and foremost, the unction of the Holy Spirit brought the disciples together in the upper room, after that experience in Acts chapter 2, there was another union of the Spirit  in the early Church, found in Acts chapter 4, in between these chapter were preaching and miracles of Apostle Peter. On the day of Pentecost when Apostle Peter stood up to preach, there was a spirit born reconciliation when people from different parts of the world heard their language spoken through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. After that preaching of Peter many from different cultural backgrounds got convicted of the Gospel and added to the fellowship of the Apostles, which formed the first Church. The language, an important cultural expression and an important conflict of all times was transcended on the day of Pentecost, and were reconciled through the Gospel.

It’s also important to note that the two major groups in Jerusalem, the jews and the greeks found a common place in the Church amids all their cultural conflicts and differences.  The Administrative team under Stephen served the poor Greeks or the Hellenists, whom the Jews usually considered as gentiles. The act of the Holy Spirit was the act of reconciliation. Even though there were conflicts it was dealt with the wisdom of the Spirit, as we read that in the Epistles of Peter and Paul. We cannot negate the Spirit’s role in reconciliation especially through the ministry of the Apostles.

Two examples in Acts is so important to understand the wisdom of the spirit, and they are different, one at the house of Cornelius found in Acts 10, the Roman officer, and the other is the Jerusalem council found in Acts 15.

We cannot just be over confident about the role of the Spirit,  but we must humbly submit ourselves to obedience to the truth and reform of the Spirit. Because it’s not alone the spirit which testifies, but also the Church which is the witness.

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning”. John 15:26,27.

In the Cornelius case, Apostle Peter had the vision of different kind of animals and birds, and in the vision God asks him to eat, stating that nothing is unclean.

Food is a basic cultural expression, and it is strongly connected with people of that particular culture, and also many religions are tied with sensitive dietery habits, we must consider not only the food culture present, but also the religion tied with that food culture”. It was a tricky time for the Apostle Peter who was filled with the Holy Spirit, and the leader of the Jerusalem Church, a Jew by birth turned Apostle birthed through the Spirit. The vision was clear, he got a call from the gentile Cornelius, to hear the Gospel. There the Gospel united them, but the Holy Spirit played an important role in spiritual reformation which lead to reconciliation. Even while Peter was preaching the Gospel, the Holy Spirit moved so powerfully and confirmed Christ’s Gospel, and the same day they were water Baptized and were added to the Church. This became the conclusive proof that the spirit of the Gospel transcends every boundary created by cultural conflicts to believe the truth of the Gospel, and become part of the Church. Yet, it required the obedience of Peter, he had to submit to the truth of the Gospel beyond its cultural boundaries.

In the Jerusalem council AD 50, Apostle Paul vehemently advocates for the exclusion of gentiles from the Jewish custom of circumcision. The Church had a very serious and deep discussion on the issue irrespective of their ranks. The biggest decision they had to make whether to ask the believers from non-Jewish background to follow the circumcision ritual. Finally,  they decided not to compel others in to circumcision. They understood that the Gospel of Christ is for all people, and he came for the salvation of everyone. They understood that the spirit of the Gospel is towards reconciliation.

Three decisions were recommended from the Jerusalem Council. 1. To stay away from sexual immorality 2. To avoid the food sacrificed to the idols 3. To help the poor.

Three conclusions can be made out of their final three decisions, First and foremost the spirit of the Gospel always leads to Holiness, so a Holy and righteous life is a priority. Second, is to avoid sinful practices found in different cultures, which doesn’t merge with the purpose of the Gospel, only accept those doesn’t deviate from the truth of the Gospel, third and importantly, to serve those who are in need, poor and marginalized, the culture of the Gospel is to reach out to the lost with the Love of God. These are the standards of reconciliation we can follow today from the example of Jerusalem Council.

Any contextualization to reconcile a particular culture, must uphold the spirit of the Gospel. If it doesn’t, it will not transform any society. The Goal of the Gospel is to renew a person, and not to change every aspect of its culture. Anything that stays as an hindrance to the transformation of a person to God’s standards must be analyzed. So there is no Spiritual vs Social Gospel, there is only ‘one’ Gospel which leads to spiritual reformation that leads to social transformation. The spirituality of the Gospel, includes the needs of the society. The Holy Spirit is the leader of any reconciliation, and we must obey to the prompt of the Spirit.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”. 2 Corinthians 3:17.

The Positives in a Culture :

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him”. Luke 10:33.

The Jews didn’t associate themselves with samaritans, now Jesus addresses this issue with the parable. He wanted the jews not to be confined by their own cultural pride, but look at the good of a person from other culture. It’s an example too in how we should see a culture. Jesus also spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well, and made it clear that the salvation is of the Jews. He noticed the good things of others, but also was clear about the boundaries.

There will be lot of good and positive things in a culture, which allign itself with the truth of the Gospel. In Indian culture hospitality is supreme, and respecting the elders is important, these are positives which should be accomodated by the promoters of the Gospel. In our mission to reconciliation we cannot just totally ignore all the good present in the other culture.

Insensitivity to the other culture is also a stumbling block to reconciliation, we must not disrespect the cultural traditions of others and be sensitive, Apostle Paul asks us to share the Gospel with others with Love and respect. Even the faults of a culture should be pointed out with wisdom, Lord Jesus asked wise questions, and Apostle Paul debated in order to bring out the evil in a culture, and presented the truth. They made people think and reason.

To win the people with the Gospel is our priority,  and we must be able to cancel out those stumbling blocks in us and embrace good and acceptable things in a culture. The
Gospel of reconciliation had lost its many opportunities,  because of our own stubbornness and insensitivity towards a particular culture. We must learn from Jesus.

The Other Jesus : Rebellion or Reformation

If the Church has to Reconcile the world to God and to itself through the Gospel. It has to be transformed by the spirit of the Gospel. The Church has to first look within itself, to see whether reconciliation is sought after within the Church.

The Church is not out side the cultures of the world, it’s prone to have differences within. In his first Epistle to Corinthians Apostle Paul while addressing a certain divide between the Jews and Greeks within the Church, says this

“Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God”. 1 Corinthians 1: 22-24

People from each culture will demand something from the Church that symbolizes their identity, but the Church should act by the wisdom of God to please God through reconciliation. Apostle Paul makes this revolutionary, reformatory and reconciliatory statement to the Church at Galatians.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”. Galatians 3:28.

We are one in Christ Jesus. The reconciliation Apostle Paul insisted on Philemon in his letter to him regarding Onesimus, asking him to treat him as his own son, shows how the spirit of the Gospel transcended cultural issues of slavery of those times.

Right from early Church times, the consensus of theological doctrines, and its interpretations through the scriptures has been an important task. The understanding of Biblical truths varied due to beliefs, experiences, necessities and importantly the culture. As Apostle Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians, is Christ divided?

The other Jesus, is how we personalize Jesus according to our own imagination and culture, even in the US political parties use scriptures that are suitable to them, and Jesus becomes customized too. We must stop looking at Jesus through the prism of culture, but look at culture through him and his Gospel.

We cannot categorize the first Schism of the Church in the 9th century, only as a doctrinal issue, but also as a cultural issue. This constant fissure due to cultural and lot of other tensions within the universal and local Church, raises doubts in the minds of people, whether the Church is a worthy agent of the Gospel of Reconciliation. The Church truly inspired by the Holy Spirit can be an agent of reconciliation if it is willing , because many times because of the unwillingness of the Church to respond to the reformation of the Spirit had lead to painful divisions and Brokenness.

When Prophet Jeremiah cried out reformation in God’s house, it was seen as rebellion. When John the Baptist and Jesus Christ cried out for reformation within the community of Israel, it was seen as rebellion. When Martin Luther called out for reformation within the Church, it was considered rebellion. We must first stop seeing reformation as rebellion. Reconciliation happens through reformation of the Holyspirit, the Church which responds to the Call of the Spirit, will always move towards a reconciliation not based on emotions, but based on truth.

The Threshold to Reconciliation:

Is there a limit to reconciliation? Does the Gospel of Reconciliation has limits to its reach? The Gospel embraces everyone, but it does have limits because of people’s hearts, they will reject because of culture, traditions, fear, and for many other reasons. Just think that Jesus himself was not received everywhere within Judea. The Gospel with all the fairness and truth can still be rejected. The Gospel itself doesn’t reject anyone.

How far can the Gospel go to Reconcile men from different background? It can go till the zone where truth remains uncompromised, till the spirit of the Gospel is not grieved. We can derive the standards out of Jerusalem council.

If we could test the threshold of reconciliation…. for example, in the issue of same sex marriages and homosexuality, that many churches find it hard to Reconcile, and many don’t. Its a serious conflict more so in our times. Even the judicial system is finding it a hard ball in many nations , there is a debate on how can we approach a lifestyle individual preferences. Is it a right or an unlawful behaviour. The question is whether the Law desires justice in the society, or morality in the behaviour. I think this issue is certainly critical,in many nations the Law allows it, and the Church is expected to agree to it. So there is a tussle between judiciary and the Church. If the Church doesn’t allow such decisions, does it mean it fails in grace to offer reconciliation? These are conflicts through which the Gospel of reconciliation and love has to travel.

Then comes the categorizing of Sin, does sin have ranks and levels. Jesus treated all sin as serious and dangerous, that’s why he warns that a lust can lead to adultery, and anger can lead to murder. Do we offer reconciliation, based on the category of sin. NO!

The Bible says in 1 John 1:7,

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin”.

‘All sins’ means reconciliation is offered through the blood of Jesus, no matter the category of sin. But as forgiveness plays a role in reconciliation from those who stand by and offer the Gospel.  Repentance is the place from which the Gospel of reconciliation is fully received and realized. The fruit of reconciliation is only possible through the seed of Repentance.

Coming back to the issue of Homosexuality, the early Church and Apostle Paul considered it as sexual immorality. It must stay that way, since changing times cannot undermine the spirit of the Gospel. Any sin can be forgiven through Repentance, but not on compromise. Eventhough there can be no category of sins in forgiveness through Repentance. There are sins, which has dangerous consequences.

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body”. 1 Corinthians 6:18.

“And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven”. Matthew 12:31.

“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9.

In the first verse Apostle Paul, talks about the danger of sexual immorality and makes the case of why it is different, Jesus, in the second verse about the danger of blasphemy against the spirit, which can’t even be forgiven, and third is that Jesus solidifies his case against divorce, with one exception, which is sexual immorality.

The effects of sins and its consequences are different, but reconciliation through forgiveness and Repentance is very much available to all, except the blasphemy of the Spirit. It’s because it squanders the truth.

So to conclude the threshold of reconciliation, any reconciliation is possible through the Gospel. But a compromise on truth to accommodate a culture in order to be acceptable, will result in tragedy. Jesus was full of grace and also truth.

Gospel’s response to human conflicts:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19.

Gospel welcomes all people in to reconciliation. Jesus said ‘ Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest’. The Gospel doesn’t marginalize anybody, any people or language groups or any culture. The Gospel is designed in a way, that if it’s not for all, then it’s for none. The Angel’s who were one of the first ones to proclaim the Gospel, said this,

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people”. Luke 2:10.

The Gospel is Goodnews which brings joy for all people irrespective of human conflicts. The message offers hope through the sacrifice of Christ, which is relevant to all. The Holyspirit transcends every boundary and man made conflicts to convict and confirm the Gospel. The Spirit of the Gospel is recognizable to any soul, because all were created in the image of God, and the fallen nature is never more glorious than becoming a New creation. Unless we choose fear over faith, unless we are unwilling to acknowledge the truth, unless we resist the Holy Spirit to change and reform not alone the world, but also the Church.

Approaches to Reconciliation:

1. The possibility of the Gospel : We must first understand the possibility of the Gospel and the change it can offer. If the cannbalistic tribes, the viking warriors, the zealous zealots, the classical Hellenists, and the mighty Romans can be transformed by the power of the Gospel. There is no exception of what Gospel can do to any culture or any people who have not tasted the goodness of God in Christ. We must always depend on the Holy Spirit guidance to carry the Gospel and believe in its power of transformation. God’s love is bigger and we must proclaim it louder.

2. Understanding the reason behind the beliefs: We must educate ourselves in the beliefs of the culture whom we are trying to reach. Apostle Paul knew the culture of the Greeks when he addressed them in Athens, he even quoted some of their epicurean and stoic philosophers. The recipients of the Gospel of reconciliation must feel, they have something in common. It comes from learning and understanding a particular culture.

3. Reaching out with care:  Taking the first step to reach out and care for others, is the birth of reconciliation. When there are many reasons to move away from a person, community or culture, the Gospel gives enough reasons to reach out to a culture which is different, resisting and difficult. The fundamental purpose of the Church in the New Testament was to reach out. Reconciliation requires empathy, a culture might be totally against the Gospel, yet we cannot be displeased about it. We are going to reach them with God’s love. The Gospel reached across the world not only through preaching, but also through care and service. It’s not a Gospel of condemnation but of reconciliation. The needs can be physical, emotional or intellectual, but we must try our best to care and meet those needs. Missionaries went to unknown lands, and lived among different culture, just to show care and support, they took efforts to learn their languages, adjusted with their food culture and empathized with them. This is how the Gospel of reconciliation travelled across the earth.

4. Developing systems of Change : Gospel means Good News, and News  is about something which has happened or happening. Through the Gospel, something good happens and happening. The means and methods should be appropriate to make a real change in their lives. Especially, if someone has preferred homosexuality, they need lot of listening and counseling, they have to know that the Gospel understands them, and wants them to be reconciled with God. That assurance can give them an opportunity for change. Systems of change that births out through the spirit of the Gospel is important to
reconciliation. It can be a Church, Hospital, Educational institution, or a care centres, such systems helps to care for people over a period of time, and will create trust among those who need reconciliation. These are systems of change, which grows along with the community.

5. Intercession : Intercessory prayer is vital for breakthrough in any culture or society. Nehemiah considered his people’s sins as his own, and he prayed a prayer of intercession. Many times the lost nature of someone without the hope of the Gospel doesn’t affect us, we don’t empathize and intercede,  because we consider that it was someone else’s fault, and we don’t take responsibility and pray about it, act about it. We must consider the conflicts of our world as our own, and consider the problems and mistakes of others as our own, then we will have the attitude of intercession. The cross of Christ was the place of intercession. Jesus was thirsty for the salvation of all creation, he was filled with passion to Reconcile all men to him, and he interceded on the cross to the father and said ‘Father, for give them’. His intercession offered us reconciliation, he even gave his life for that. If we just keep on complaining and condemning we can’t see change, we can’t taste the fruit of reconciliation. We must start to intercede.

Hope of Reconciliation:

“He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near”. Ephesians 2:17.

The forgiveness offered by Christ on the cross, and the wisdom and power of the Holyspirit is the hope of our reconciliation with God and men. It’s true, that the world is filled with conflicts, but if we are willing to work with God, there is no barrier we cannot breach by the truth of his Gospel, and no culturecan be immune to the Gospel. Its a universal message, and is relevant to every person.

We are called to be peacemakers, and that peace comes only through reconciliation. We have the power through the Gospel to reconcile and heal the conflicts present in the world. Let’s heal the world in Jesus Name!!!

In the end, reconciliation is a spiritual process, which requires more than just a legal framework. It has to happen in the hearts and minds of people.

Nelson Mandela