After learning the AIA Principles and working to apply them to athletics and competition through the S.P.E.C.I.A.L, we continued to delve deeper into the strategy for community development. Outlined in Dr. John Perkin’s book, Justice for All, the strategy presented by Dr. Perkins, the foundation of the work we are doing here at Urban Project - Los Angeles, is one to bring liberty in light of the gospel. The strategy, follows the principle of the Three R’s: relocation, reconciliation, and redistribution.
This week, we had the incredible privilege of hearing from Michael Sylvester on the the topic of reconciliation. Before tackling the work of reconciliation, it is important to understand that we are ambassadors of Christ. An ambassador represents the interests of the one who sent them. So as Christians, if we are going to be ambassadors, we have to understand who Christ is, what he represents, and stands for. How can we know what we represent and what God has called us to if we do not know God’s heart? In simple terms, we are called to advance God’s kingdom, make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), and continue the ministry of reconciliation(2 Corinthians 5:18). To do this, we must be available, proactive and plan.
As Dr. Perkins clearly articulated in his book, “If the Gospel doesn’t bring you into a relationship with God, then bring you into relationship with your fellowman, then make you want to bring other people into that relationship, I can’t Imagine what the gospel is for. The only purpose of the gospel is to reconcile people to God and to each other. A gospel that doesn’t reconcile is not a christian gospel at all” (116, Perkins). Reconciliation is a significant part of the gospel as Christians we are called to be reconciled to God and to each other.
Jesus, the Great Reconciler, is our perfect example of what reconciliation looks like. Jesus did not come to this earth, stand off to the side and just point out our every fault, wrongdoing and struggle then do nothing about it (Luke 4:16-21). He was there, walking with people, “life on life,” on earth. The business of reconciliation is not just what Christians do, but who we are.
We have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). Our motivation should not be to live a sin free life but to live fully for Christ. If you are so afraid of what you shouldn’t do, then you lose sight of what you should do. As an athlete I find it challenging to keep my focus and motivation from being on what I should not do, dwelling on mistakes or everything that could go wrong. That type of mentality traps you and becomes shackles that hinder the ability to play freely. Just as I strive to play freely, when one takes motivation off of trying at all costs not to sin, but to living a life fully devoted to God and His calling, then one can now have liberty and can “play” freely. I am working to no longer be dragged by the fear of making mistakes, but to be driven by love for the Lord with unwavering confidence in his plan and incredible grace. Just as I pursue excellence, I am learning to pursue God even more wholeheartedly.
In order to begin reconciliation, we must understand what Jesus stands for so we may represent who He truly is. This part of the true gospel, that God is unconditional love, freedom from performance, and in whom our identity is found. Otherwise, it may be easy to lose sight of what our purpose is, allowing us to live a life of complacency, caught up in a fake gospel that allows us to vindicate our current lifestyles and beliefs, safe in our comfort zones. Reconciliation, though, is not easy. Reconciliation is always engaged, proactive and comes with sacrifice. Just like sports, we build our craft so it becomes second nature, a part of who I am and I can “just play.” I don’t need a script. Our posture is intentional and planned.
Confidence in who Christ is and the calling he has for us in the ministry of reconciliation fires me up. How will I respond when my number is called? As a Christian I strive to be proactive not reactive. Reconciliation is a fight and Christians are not called to an easy life. Whatever and wherever the Lord calls, I seek to find my strength in Him where I can be engaged, prepared, and proactive.
Regina - The Ohio State University, Lacrosse #27