by David Buffaloe
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18).
It is a sad thing when a Christian forgets to Whom he owes his allegiance. We who belong to Christ should spend every moment of every day praising God, for who among us deserved such a great gift? We sinned and grieved the Lord, but He gives greater grace (James 4:6). No matter how great our sin was, no matter how loathsome the offense, the Lord's grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). Let our sins be as a river, and His grace will be as the ocean that the river runs into. Let our separation from God be as wide as the Grand Canyon. What is this to the God Who created infinite space? His life swallows up our death, His love meets our every need. What a Mighty God we serve!
No Christian who is a Christian indeed should ever forget from whence he came. In reconciling us to Himself by Jesus Christ, God has given us much-including the ministry of reconciliation. What is a ministry of reconciliation? If you have been saved by faith in Jesus Christ then you are called by God to help others find Him. Jesus Christ is your High Priest and you who are saved are His priestly family. Jesus Christ is your Refuge and you, dear ones, are to do everything you can do to lead others to that same Refuge.
God has given us a wonderful illustration of our ministry of reconciliation in His Old Testament "cities of refuge." Once Israel was settled in the Promised Land God ordered that the priests set apart six cities to be cities of refuge. If someone accidentally killed another person, according to long-standing custom the blood spilled had to be avenged. The "blood avenger" would chase the offender, who ran along the King's Highway of salvation. If the offender reached the city of refuge before the blood avenger caught up with him, then his life was spared as long as he stayed in that city.
It was the priests' responsibility to not only manage the cities of refuge, but also to clear any stumbling blocks along the King's Highway that might cause the fugitive to fall. Sign posts marked the way to the cities of refuge, so that the fugitive would not become disoriented. The fugitive had a clear road to the nearest refuge, or else the priests were to be blamed.
Dear friends, the city of refuge is an Old Testament shadow of God our Refuge. The road to the City is an Old Testament shadow of faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible says: "The Lord is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge" (Ps. 94:22), and again, "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:14). Some will get on a road that will not lead to the Refuge, and the blood avenger will not be deterred.
We who are in the Refuge are ministers of reconciliation. We want to clear the path for the sinner, and we surely do not want to cast any rocks into the Way. There are but two steps unto heaven. The first step is out of self and into Christ, and the second step is out of Christ and into heaven. Let us who are His remain focused on that blessed ministry that He has given us.
David Buffaloe pastors Rock Hill Baptist Church in Lexington, TN.