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What does it take to reconcile?     From Nothing but the Blood Audio
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.  —2 Chronicles 5

For if while we were enemies we were RECONCILED to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been RECONCILED, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the RECONCILIATION. —Romans 5

So we've now got an experience with what it means to be redeemed by the blood, for the remission of sins and how we’re justified, but what about being reconciled to God?

We don’t use that word much, except maybe to reconcile a checkbook. You can think of it as settling accounts or making everything even. I’m thinking of action movies, like the recent Equalizer movie, where settling accounts meant justice, killing and destruction.

But when the goal isn’t justice, but to win me/you/us back into a right standing relationship, that’s harder. Think of your favorite action movie. Got it? We like those movies because the protagonist (the good guy) makes and executes a plan flawlessly to bring justice to the antagonist (bad guy). But what Hollywood creative could ever develop a storyline to win the antagonist back into right relationship? None. We couldn’t even imagine it.

But God, had a plan to reconcile me/you/us to Him. Consider this story that Billy Graham told:

 A man and woman marry. In the beginning, they love and serve each other. But over time, they come to know the other’s non-negotiables. And when you come up against another, one you’re in and trying to be in relationship with; when you come up against the other’s non-negotiables, you have two choices. Overcome them, or grow hard.

This couple grew hard.

“Why can’t he _________?” “Why doesn’t she ___________?” “If he hadn’t ____________ . . .”

They have a child, and while there are moments, with that child, when they glimpse how it was in the beginning, they can’t reconcile their issues and they divorce.

Despite the separation, the child soldiers on through the mess the couple has created until, unexpectedly, the child dies.

Years later, the man is traveling on business and visits the grave of his child. Seeing fresh flowers on it, he stoops to arrange them and as he rises, he realizes that he’s not alone.

Looking his child’s mother straight in the face, the old hardness begins to well up. “How could she have _______? If she’s only _______ . . .”

And as he turns to walk away, his hand brushes hers. He lingers. So does she. And standing there, over the grave of their child, the hardness begins to thaw and they are reconciled by his blood.

I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about an incredible loss, unreasonable destruction and despair that dissolves enmity. This is just a story, but in life, tragedy brings enemies together in natural disasters or man-made ones.

But what warms the heart in a situation like the couple or the earthquake or 9/11? One important factor is that the loss has to be big enough to break through my/your/our non-negotiable and soften our heart. And (not to limit the power of God, but) for God [resume: Creator of the Universe, outside of time, Alpha & Omega, etc. etc. etc.] . . . for God, what could possibly be big enough?

I talk about this more at the end of Chapter 6-The Wait of the Gospel in A Rooster Once Crowed, but what could possibly be big enough for me/you/us to know that God loves us? If Bill Gates gave you $10 million, would you know that he loved you? No, because if you’re trying to win the recipient, the gift has to be meaningful.

In 2013, an earthquake hit the Philippines. It killed hundreds and destroyed nearly 15,000 buildings. Families were devastated and businesses wrecked. If you asked a mother who lost a child or a father with no way to support his family to recount that experience, you would feel emotion and see tears because they had an experience with it. It affected them.

Read Mark 15. Does that story affect you? Are you moved deep inside for the man in that story?

Because there’s something else that’s required to bring reconciliation. The loss has to mean something to you, too. My/Your/Our failure to connect to the Person on the cross is a failure to accept the sacrifice and finds God, alone, waiting at the grave.

Read Mark 15, again. Pay attention to the details. Imagine what it smelled like as the day broke and how, almost certainly, the rocks seemed eager to cry out (Luke 19:40). What did it feel like to stand next to the fine robes of the Temple leaders or to feel the black, coolness of the blotted out sun for three full hours? Could you hear a veil 60 feet high and (possibly) an inch thick being torn?

This is a process, but I can tell you that in order for this to mean something, you can’t be the guy cutting grass in the graveyard. He was there, but wasn’t affected by the scene at all. Because he didn’t know that child.

If the Gospel Story doesn’t affect/move/challenge/melt you, you don’t know the One on the cross and until you do, you’ll remain unreconciled to God.

Lord, Plant this seed deeply. Let those with eyes to see and ears to hear engage in this thought and conversation and see that You, truly, stand at the door and knock. You wait for us in tragedy and not as One who has never experienced it Yourself, but as One fully acquainted with every broken place. I’m sorry, Lord, for all those broken places that I’m responsible for in You and Your children. I love You and pray that others will be infected by this/You/me and want the same for their households. Here I am, Lord. Send me. I love You.

l love you.          

This is the fifteenth part in a multi-part post expanding on an exceptional talk Billy Graham gave at the University of Cambridge in 1955 with influences from Tim Keller's sermon series Christ: Our Treasury (The Book of Hebrews). To hear an overview of this material, consider listening to the original Nothing but the Blood audio, linked here (it'll stream from a mobile device), read all the posts to date by clicking #nothingbuttheblood, or hear the most recent version of the Nothing but the Blood talk by streaming it on the player, below. If you'd like to get these posts sent to you via email (and you're not already), click here to register and make sure to tell us that you're a Back Porch Friend.

The next in this series, Part 16. Bled Clean Back to the Beginning is available by clicking here.

The above media player has something new on it. I've mastered the audio a bit to make it sound a little better and added a new intro and close. I'd love to hear your feedback on it down below. Just click play and it'll stream from your computer, tablet or mobile device.
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