God in Christ, Reconciling the World to Himself

Daily Prompt: Quote Me

by michelle w. on January 4, 2013

Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?

I don’t memorize Scripture very well. There. I said it. I mean, I can usually find a verse by searching a few of the words I remember. You know, the gist? And then there’s remembering the ‘address’. Yeah. I can usually get close … let’s see, like “I know it’s in the Old Testament…”

The title of this post is the small portion of the section below which I can actually remember. Here’s the whole thing:

2 Corinthians 5:18-20

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

I spent almost 30 years in what I call Evangelical World. In this world there is one goal and one goal only: Get everyone saved. This proved to be a very frustrating goal for me, as it turns out. Early on I found that I wasn’t very good and convincing people that they need saving. Apparently, I wasn’t very good at ‘praying people in’ to the Kingdom, either.

And then something really amazing happened: God blew up my theological box! What’s a theological box, you ask? Well, everyone has one. It’s the framework you have in your mind that forms your understanding of who God is (or is not). Even if you are an atheist, you have this box. Your box just happens to support the thought that there is no God. This is a theological box none-the-less.

So I haven’t quite gotten to why this verse moves me. It’s simple, really. In Evangelical World only a select few get in to God’s Kingdom. Only a select few will make the ‘right’ choice and find their way into God’s family. And in that world view penal substitutionary atonement is the prevailing (usually only) understanding of the atonement. As you can see from some of my other blogs about the atonement, this view basically says that our sin made God really mad (Evangelical World refers to this as ‘God’s wrath’). It also teaches that God is morally perfect and because we have sinned (missed the mark of perfection), God requires some sort of payment. They believe that Jesus paid God off by dying in our place. But these few verses turn that idea entirely on its head.

In them we see God’s real plan – the reconciliation of the world (as opposed to a select few). We also see that instead of the idea that God is mad and Jesus is loving (kind of like God the Father is wanting to spank us in a serious way – snuff us out – because of our sins, but Jesus stands in between God and us saying, “Don’t hurt them, Father, punish me instead!”), we see here that the Father and the Son are united in their quest to reconcile everything (and thus, everyone) to them. I mean, you cannot get any more intimate than to be ‘in’ someone, can you?

God in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.

This moves me because it speaks a word of hope – something Evangelical World has completely neglected, even lost. As long as the Gospel remains available only to a select few, the world (Greek word ‘cosmos’ – the entire creation!) will be left out of the equation. As long as Evangelical World understands the Gospel in terms of the Law rather than Grace, they will have no hope to give.

Our God is a God of hope, love, peace, joy, and, above all, reconciliation. He Himself reconciled us (not because He was angry and needed a sacrifice, but because we didn’t believe He loved us). When man sinned, God did not change, we did. In Christ He showed us that absolutely nothing we do can turn aside His love for us, for His creation, for His beloved children.

That’s why this quote moves me. I hope it has spoken a word of hope to you as well.

4 thoughts on “God in Christ, Reconciling the World to Himself

  1. I don’t agree with all the ideas you’ve pegged as evangelical, and I do see the Scriptures describing both God the Father and Jesus Christ as the God of love, hope, peace, joy, and reconciliation. But the Scriptures also clearly teach that sin does anger God. How else can we interpret Jeremiah 25:15-38, Romans 1:18-23, Exodus 32:7-10? And these are just a start. Exodus 34:6 says God is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Nowhere does it say He does not ever get angry. When we sin, we hurt ourselves, and we hurt others. If someone hurts my child, I’m angry! How much more God, who is the perfect Father? It should not be an either/or scenario: either God is loving or God is angry. It is both.


    1. Rachelle, thanks so much for responding! 🙂

      I think that Jesus ultimately trumps any other O.T. rendering of what God is like. Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the final word, plus the way Jesus and other N.T. writers (like Paul, for instance) managed to completely reinterpret O.T. passages regarding judgment is telling.

      Meanwhile, of course I believe that God feels anger, it’s just the target I disagree with. Wrath in the Bible can be defined as passion, and while passion can sometimes be manifested by anger, I do not believe God is ever angry at people. He is passionately angry at sin and what sin does to people, though.

      A good book for you to look at would be Sharon Baker’s “Razing Hell” where she considers that maybe the O.T. writers were doing the best they could to interpret events they could not explain in terms of who God is, but perhaps if we looked at those difficult passages you cited again through the lens of Jesus and what He reveals about the character of the Father, we may come up with some different conclusions regarding God’s “anger” and how that might relate to love.

      Anyway, some things to think about. God give you peace into the New Year!


    1. Unfortunately, for many centuries the Christian church has preached a message of fear instead of hope. It amazes me how many Evangelicals get so angry when I challenge their idea of eternal hell with the Gospel message that God intends to reconcile all. The anger is kind of scary actually. One would hope that Christians would welcome that idea – or at least hope that it could be true.


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