10 Days 2015 Devotional, Day 4: The Ministry of Reconciliation and Divine Division

Day 4: The Ministry of Reconciliation and Divine Division

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh…Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come… all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation… 2 Corinthians 5:16-18

Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Charleston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Walter County.

These names have become synonymous with other historic bastions of civil rights through the controversial police related deaths of black men and women over the past year. Through these conflicts, our nation’s infected racial wounds have been flayed open and our hearts fully exposed.

When we examine the Church’s effectiveness at embodying the spirit of John 17 in the context of today’s racial problems, we must admit that we’ve failed miserably. Due to gross immaturity in the understanding of God’s eternal plan for every tribe, every tongue, and every nation; many in the Church have no revelatory insight into the “why” of America’s contentious racial history or the “how” of applying biblical salve to the historic ethnic divides.  

Historic judicial and legislative rulings in the land still carry weighty and lasting consequences. Some of those rulings such as Plessy v. Ferguson or “separate but equal”, set precedents for the oppressive Jim Crow laws of the South and released dark spiritual activity over our nation. Times and laws have changed but the wounds remain and those ancient spirits continue to influence the generations.

Divine Peace-Making: The Ministry of Reconciliation

It is in the midst of this seemingly unsolvable problem that we are beckoned to activate our divine earthly occupation: the ministry of reconciling Man to God, Man to Man, and History to Eternity.

2 Corinthians 5 begins with a description of our citizenship in the Heavenlies. We long for the foundations of righteousness and justice that exist in our eternal home to rule our temporal space. As a result, we’ve tried to deal with societal problems that are sourced in the spiritual realm, such as racism, almost exclusively through civil and social means. For example, marches, boycotts, protests…even electing a mixed president.
While there is value in those actions, we must go higher.  As sons of God with access to the throne room of God, we can participate with God in rendering righteous decrees that impact our temporal condition and release divine peace into the chaos and complexity of these times. It’s this blessing that is captured in Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”  This divine peace-making grace is available to us before, after, and in the midst of conflict. But the ministry of peace-making isn’t activated without conflict.

Divine Division: Separating Flesh from Spirit

Do you think that I came to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided father against Son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother... Luke 12:51

I could never understand this scripture until my family and I moved to Ferguson to minister to both the police and the protestors in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting. I realized that God was manifesting in the midst of the raging fires, using the racial crisis to create what I call the “divine division.” Not between Black and White, Latino and Asian, Democrat and Republican, but between the flesh and the spirit. In Christ our earthly lineage/ancestry is much less relevant as we move from being sons of men to sons of God.

This is evidenced in Matthew 12:46-50:

While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.”  But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!  “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

God is using the race issue to expose where our allegiances lie and separate the sheep from the goats. Will we continue to be defined primarily by our earthly ethnic origins and family and cultural preferences or defined primarily by our heavenly identity?

Today, invite the Holy Ghost to reveal the deeply rooted belief systems in our hearts that have kept us from truly loving one another across the divides. We must be willing to repent of suspicion, mistrust, fear, indifference; and let go of bitterness, anger, rage, and frustration. Together, we ask God to remove anything that has tainted our ability to truly live as citizens of the Kingdom of God, and to activate the ministry of reconciliation in this hour of great need.

Jonathan Tremaine Thomas is the founder and director of The Commission, a missions network committed to seeing Holy dwelling places established in the nations of the earth through prevailing prayer, unceasing worship and creative manifestation of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.