There is immense grief and anger in Ethiopia today, due to the heart wrenching war atrocities taking place in the war between the Tigray Defence Force and the Ethiopian Government. Inconceivable suffering has been experienced by many Ethiopians. Because such rampant injustice stirs righteous anger, we can very quickly become consumed by hatred. Therefore, the only true solution for communities where grief tending towards aggression reigns is the gospel of reconciliation.
The only true solution where anger reigns is the gospel of reconciliation.
Humanity is no stranger to conflict and war. Therefore we are also familiar with its long-lasting effects, from suspicious prejudice to searing resentment. Reconciliation is a word we may hear a lot about, though it isn’t something we often see. But in the gospel we learn about how our God reconciles people to himself. Christians are benefactors through faith of God’s gracious action. In light of this we must be those who enact reconciliation and peace.
A Brief History of Human Strife
Of course, there are unique aspects to the conflict in Ethiopia. But grief, anger and violent animosity among people is seen throughout the world and history. In the biblical history, we see people rising against people, nations against nations, creating hatred and resentment. More recently, on our own continent, we’ve seen more than one genocide and we are again witness to rape being used as a weapon of war.
However, the Bible shows that when God created Adam and Eve, he created humans to rule over the world in responsible stewardship. This is what it means to be created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Hostility is the result of God’s curse against the world, pronounced because of human sin (Genesis 3:17-19). Evidence of this hostility comes very soon after Genesis 3, when Cain kills his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8).
God’s people should be those who pursue reconciliation, since God pursued them in the same way.
Thus there was a need for a second, true Adam (Romans 5:12-21). He would set humans right. His coming would bring about reconciliation between God and man, as well as set a course for reconciliation between people. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, forms a new community—a new humanity—around himself. But this is no abstract reconciliation. God’s people should be those who pursue reconciliation, since God pursued them in the same way.
Christ Reconciles Us To God
Firstly, the primary ruin of humanity in Adam is alienation from God. However, through the second Adam, we can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18). As promised in Genesis, Christ came to bring about an end to enmity, conflict, and fighting (Genesis 3:15). As J. I. Packer writes, “By reconciling us to God, ending the alienation and estrangement that were previously there, linking God and us together in new harmony, replacing enmity between us with friendship and peace, by means of the putting away of our sins (Colossians 1:19–22)”.
Christ came to bring about an end to enmity.
This reconciliation, through his death and resurrection, ensures that we are not only saved from the guilt of sin but also from the power of sin (Romans 8:2-11). This, of course, does not mean that we will be perfect before his second coming. But it does mean that we now have an inclination of the heart towards God, and by the power of the Spirit we can overcome sin as well as its effects.
We are sanctified, or set apart, to shine a glimmer of what Adam was supposed to be. Responsible and tender stewards of the world God has given us—the communities he has placed us in. This means being like Christ, shining the glory of God in our very countries of hostility and grief.
The Gospel Empowers Reconciliation
Reconciliation with God also means being his people. This means reconciliation across boundaries of animosity, forming a community where Christ is the head. Believing Gentiles and Jews, the free and the slave, men and women have become one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). This is a proclamation that the wall of hostility that existed among the different groups has been broken and a new community exists in Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22). History attests to the animosity between Jews and Gentiles. Yet the Bible story shows those groups being brought together in Christ.
If we belong to Christ, how can we resist his work of reconciliation?
Likewise, in Christ we have become one people. This is the only true reconciliation, a lasting reconciliation among peoples, languages, and tribes. If we belong to Christ, trusting in him for reconciliation with God, how can we resist his work of reconciliation between people? As we read in Ephesians 2:14, “He himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”.
We Are Ministers of Reconciliation
In Christ, we are reconciled with God and become members of his people. Therefore we should live out this reconciliation. Although we have our social identities (Tegaru, Oromo, Amhara, and others) it is time that we give prime allegiance to our identities as Christians.
It is time that we live out our identities as Christians, more than any allegiance.
Our identity in Christ should also supersede any financial brackets, educational status, class distinctions, and cultural preferences. Above all, if we call ourselves Christians, our prime identity is in Christ. This means being united as the people of God across the various identities, even across enmity between those identities.