April 19, 2019 • Life for Leaders
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Today is Good Friday, the day when Christians commemorate the death of Christ on the cross in a special way. It is a day for sober reflection as we consider what it cost God to deal with our sin. Usually, and quite appropriately, we think about how we have been personally touched by the cross. We consider how Christ took not just sin in general but our own sin upon his shoulders. We are struck once again by the awesome grace of God for us personally. As we survey the wondrous cross, we remember once again that “love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Yet there is another dimension of the cross that we sometimes overlook on Good Friday. We see this dimension clearly in Ephesians 2:14-16, where the death of Christ on the cross brings reconciliation not only between people and God but also between alienated people groups. According to this passage, Christ is our peace in that he has “destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” between hostile peoples, in this instance Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14). Christ sought “in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross” (Ephesians 2:16). Yes, the cross enables reconciliation between human beings and God. But it also enables reconciliation among human beings.
This makes sense when we remember what happened when sin first entered the world. In Genesis 3, the very first thing human beings did after sinning was to cover up themselves and hide from each other. From a theological point of view, we would rightly say that the immediate result of sin was a breach between people and God. Yet in the telling of the story in Genesis the primary evidence of this is a breach between formerly unified human beings. Therefore, if the death of Christ deals with the fundamental problem of sin, we would expect one implication of this to be actual reconciliation between people.
In thousands of workplaces today we sense a deep need for reconciliation. Coworkers are divided against coworkers, workers against management, executives against other executives, and so it goes. In many cases, systemic injustices divide people according to race, ethnicity, gender, or class. How much we need to experience true reconciliation that doesn’t just gloss over problems but rather embodies the fullness of God’s peace and justice.
The death of Christ doesn’t instantly bring reconciliation to divided workplaces. But it does lay a foundation for true, deep, lasting reconciliation in every sector of life. Moreover, it enlists those of us who have experienced reconciliation with God through Christ to be agents of reconciliation in the world, including the places where we work. If Christ gave his life to bring reconciliation to a broken world, surely those of us who follow him will seek to bring reconciliation to the places in the world to which God has sent us, including our workplaces.
Something to Think About:
In your life, how have you experienced the power of the cross when it comes to reconciliation between people?
If the justice and peace of Christ were to be present in your workplace, what difference might this make?
How can you be an agent of reconciliation where you work?
Something to Do:
Ask the Lord how you might bring his reconciliation to your workplace. You may also want to consult a wise friend about this. See if there is something you can do that will help bring reconciliation in a tangible way, even if it is just a small start.
Gracious God, on this Good Friday we thank you for the cross. We thank you taking our sin upon yourself in Jesus Christ. We thank you for reconciling us to yourself through the cross, so that we might know you intimately and serve you with all our lives.
We also thank you, Lord, that the cross brings reconciliation between people. We thank you for undoing what sin has done. Help us, we pray, to be agents of your reconciliation in every part of life, including our work. May we be quick to apologize and forgive. May we be ready to fight systemic injustices that divide people at work. May we treat others in a way that reflects the grace and love you have shown us in Jesus Christ.
To you be all the glory! Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
The Bridge-Building Love of God
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.