Not far from our home in a neighborhood adjacent to ours, there is a man who really loves to decorate for Halloween. It was there that I learned about Home Depot’s giant skeleton.
I didn’t have a clue, but apparently this decoration has quite the cultural footprint. Home Depot decided to carry this massive 12-foot tall skeleton decoration and it became extremely popular. With many Christmas decorations being less exciting, some folks have actually resorted to reusing this same skeleton for their Christmas displays – and quite creatively I might add.
The more I heard about these skeletons, the more I realized that Home Depot is known for a singular, very specific product which gave new life to a corporation’s image. Now, whenever I see that skeleton, I think of Home Depot.
I recently began to ask myself, likewise, what the Church is known for in our context today. There are many communities that have been touched very deeply by local churches who provide care for the marginalized and love indiscriminately. There are other communities that have seen very selfish and hate-filled expressions of Christianity. Which is the accurate depiction of this religion that we’re meant to portray to the world?
A message of Christianity that I personally get very excited about is the message of reconciliation. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:18 that “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”. But what exactly is it that’s from God?
Paul was teaching his readers that they are new creations. The old things (works of the flesh – Galatians 5:19-21) have passed away but the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) have now become His chosen qualities to be displayed in the world. And those things have been given to us from God in order that we might provide reconciliation to the world. What kind of reconciliation are we talking about? Frankly, it’s the impossible kind. 2 Corinthians 5:19 tells us that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their wrongdoings against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
There is an unbridgeable chasm between sinful humanity and a holy God. But He made His followers ambassadors of His to convince the world that a bridge has been built – the impossible has been made possible. This perfect Savior became our substitute and took on the punishment for all of our imperfections so that we might come to know our Creator (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). He chose to ignore all of the ways that we have sinned against Him and this is what qualifies us to share the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). It’s an honor for us to do this work because we were the primary beneficiaries of it.
What’s the application? Believers in Jesus Christ are to put away all of the predispositions that pit them against people in the world and we are to reach out to them in love. We are to display reconciliation in order to create a context for the world to believe. In certain places throughout time, the world has looked at the Church and said that they can’t believe this message of reconciliation between God and man because Christians in their vicinity showed some of the most divisive behavior they could imagine. That is when we recognize that it is a blessed opportunity for the Church to show the world this God of reconciliation through our own capacity to love in adversity rather than making enemies with the world.
That is something we should get excited about. When corporations like Home Depot become known for the cultural footprint of a 12 foot skeleton, the Church can be known for creating a context for a reconciling God through our own acts of reconciliation. Let us spend time in prayer and invite the Holy Spirit to instill within us all a passion for Paul’s call to the Corinthians – that is a ministry of reconciliation within the world in the name of Christ, the One who reconciled us to God, so that all might know the power of our Messiah who bridged chasms between the previously hopeless and the Author of ultimate hope.
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff