We Need the Strength of a Reconciling God
The events in Charlottesville remind me that our nation's profoundly racialized past is firmly sedimented in the institutions, attitudes, and norms of the present. Our history forms every aspect of our society today and until we come to grips with that past, the racial healing and reconciliation we so clearly need today will remain elusive.
But to acknowledge a past of such terrible oppression can be a shattering thing—for both oppressor and oppressed. That such evil can reside so close to us and for so long is a startling and terrifying thing to discover for us all. We are uncannily able to make even the greatest evil banal. Facing up to these realities—naming and then seeking to dismantle them—require something far more than the human spirit alone can muster.
We need the strength of a reconciling God, a God who was willing to take upon himself all the hostility and violence of our own oppression.
We need the love of a reconciling God, who in Christ has made us His own beloved so that we can have the courage to look at and tell the truth about our darkest sin and not be shattered by it.
We need the justice of a reconciling God who refuses to treat evil with impunity and yet in Christ offers his own life as a ransom for the worst of sinners.
We need the compassion of a reconciling God who Himself identifies with the oppressed and is Himself wounded in our wounds.
This is what the church has been entrusted to offer to the world. To proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ is to offer and embody a supernatural reconciliation that is nothing less than the re-creating work of the Spirit. It is the call of the church to be the locus of God's reconciliation in the world, to bear witness in its proclamation and its life together, that there is a God who has come to reconcile us to him and in so doing, reconcile us one to another.
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Abe Cho is the Senior Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church East Side, a partner church of Hope For New York.