Vertical and Horizontal

Read: 2 Corinthians 5:16-19
God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Jean Vanier was an accomplished naval officer who had recently completed a PhD, and whose family oozed with prestige (his father had been the Governor General of Canada). Yet, living in the small French village of Trosly-Breuil, Vanier was alone and downhearted. His pastor encouraged him to invite two disabled men to live with him, and L’Arche (communities where disabled and those who Vanier calls “temporarily-abled” share friendship and life together) was born. Fifty years later, L’Arche communities exist around the world.

At the center of Vanier’s work—and L’Arche’s vision—is the belief that God brings people together who would normally have little reason for friendship. The apostle Paul insists that the gospel provides for reconciliation, where barriers are shattered and people are reunited.

Reconciliation’s first movement is between God and people, bringing “us back to himself through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18). In the second movement, God gives “us the ministry of reconciliation,” reconciling humans to one another by virtue of the life we’ve come to share in Him (2 Corinthians 5:18 ESV). Reconciliation is vertical (between us and God), and then it’s horizontal (between us and our neighbor).

Reconciliation is not first a social agenda, but God’s action in Christ. “All this is a gift from God,” Paul says (2 Corinthians 5:18). As Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice say in their book Reconciling All Things: “A Christian vision of reconciliation cannot be conceived or sustained without the particular life of the God whom Christians confess, the living God of Israel who raised the crucified Jesus from the dead. The life and preaching of Jesus shape our lives distinctly in a broken world.”

Taken from “Our Daily Journey”