Read 2 Corinthians 5.20b–6.10

                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.  As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.  For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!  We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,  beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see–we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

 

From Rev. Scott Thayer, Bethany Memorial Church (Disciples of Christ),

and Chaplain, Bethany College

In this epistle lesson for Ash Wednesday, the Apostle Paul says: “be reconciled to God.” Now, that seems a strange exhortation for him to give, knowing that only one verse earlier he had already claimed, “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,” (2 Corinthians 5:19). So which is it, Paul? Is reconciliation a gift or a challenge? An indicative or an imperative? For Paul, reconciliation is both. It’s like receiving a gift of a table saw. Yes, the saw is mine, no strings attached. But then I have to learn how to use this tool, preferably without cutting my fingers off, and that takes a lot of hard work. Reconciliation has been accomplished by Christ on the cross. It is a finished gift to us. But there is still much for us to do, not to complete Christ’s work so much as to find and do our own work. Reconciliation with God and with other people have always been connected in Paul’s thought. The vertical and the horizontal come together, just like a cross. Lent is a time to celebrate Christ’s great work, but it also a time for us to get off our reconciled duffs and seek peace with each other.

“…let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ…” (Philippians 1:27)

Reconcile me to you, O God.  Help me to turn away from human pride and seek

the reputation of your name and the riches of your righteousness.

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