{RE:} Restored Relationships

Friday: Restored Relationships

Today's Scripture and topic are the perfect way to prepare our hearts and minds for Holy Week! Ultimately, Jesus' ministry was all about this "grand reversal" - the ultimate restoration of God's intentions for creation in Eden.

Read: 2 Corinthians 5: 16-19 (NRSV)

"From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.
So, if anyone is inChrist, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

All this from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses again them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us."


Paul says that anyone who is "in Christ" (abiding with him, following him) is a new creation. I think Paul means this as more than just "a better version of yourself." This isn't just about becoming better in some way. When Paul refers to creation, I think he really wants us to think back to the creation story. When we follow Christ, we are part of the effort to reclaim Eden.

Thinking about Christ's saving work this way reminds me that it's never just about some set of rules to follow!

  • When you look at your journey with Christ, where do you see yourself as a "new creation"? 
  • Paul says that "everything is new" - but we know that so much of nature and humanity is still waiting for its full restoration. When you think about the people and relationships in Eden, where do you still long to be made into a new, or restored, creation?

The perfection of Eden did not last long, as we know. And one of the greatest impacts was broken relationships - disconnection, isolation, shame, dysfunction, abuse...

In this passage, Paul says that Jesus's central work was to bring reconciliation between the world and God. Anyone who follows Christ has been reconciled to God. This means full access and unashamed intimacy with God like in the garden.

  • How do you think about God - like a strict dad or someone waiting to catch you messing up? Or like a being that longs to be connected with you? Something totally different?
  • Jesus offers us reconciliation with God. And he calls us to receive this reconciliation and ABIDE in Him. That is, he wants to be part of our whole lives!

The disorder and curse of Genesis 3 ruptures our relationship with God, but it also distorts and ruptures our relationship with one another. In Eden, we were made to be in community, and in partnerships that were mutually beneficial. The first humans were naked and unashamed - there was no judgement, no fear of danger, no desire to take advantage.

In this passage, Paul says that Christ reconciled us to God so that we would do the work of reconciliation with all people. This "ministry of reconciliation" includes telling others about Christ's saving work, but it also has some really practical implications.

  • We are personally called to reconcile relationships with others "insofar as it depends on us". 
    • Are there relationships that you are working to restore? Do what you are able to and trust God. 
    • If you haven't wanted to make the first step toward reconciliation, bring that situation to God this morning. Ask for wisdom and courage in those fractured relationships.

  • Bigger picture - how might this "ministry of reconciliation" apply to larger issues like society, economy, and nature?
    • What is our role in racial reconciliation? How can we be agents of reconciliation in such a politically divided and aggressive culture? How can we  help create cultures that look like the Kingdom of God?
    • What are we called to in an economy that often takes advantage of people or requires us to see others as competition instead of partners?
    • What is our role in the restoration of nature? 

In Christ, as you believe, accept, and follow him - you are a new creation. Restored humanity.

Through Christ, you have unhindered access to God the creator. Restored worship.

Because of Christ, you are called to a ministry of reconciliation. Restored community. Restored order.


O God,
by your great love for us
you have reconciled earth to heaven
through your only Son:
grant that we
who are turned aside from love for each other
by the darkness of our sins
may be filled with your Spirit shed abroad in us,
and embrace our friends in you
and our enemies for your sake;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- 7th Century Mozarabic Rite


Nick Tebordo - April 8th, 2022 at 4:25am

John Beverley write an incredible book called

“The Bait of Satan”. What is that bait according to Bevere? In one word”offense”. When we take offense to God or another person, we have chomp down on Satan’s bait and we are hooked. By the Holy Spirit, we must not let offense enter into our lives. I think of Jesus’ first words from the cross,”Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Lest we think it is only Jesus who can do this, consider The Deacon Steven who in his final breath asks God not to hold the sin his murderers are committing against them. We must die to self and allow the fresh pure water of the Spirit to flow through us. I believe it is Paul who says,

“Insofar as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.” In my life, I have had many restored

Becky Thayer - April 8th, 2022 at 4:57am

I have never considered that new life in Christ would be part of the restoring the garden of Eden! Lord- I pray that your light will shine through me so others will see You

Teri - April 8th, 2022 at 5:08am

Honestly, as I venture into the Passion of Easter, in my place on earth, I relate more to the beatitudes than I do to Paul and a vision of recreating Eden. In a post pandemic society where my daughter has nowhere to go to create meaning in her life because day programs can’t hire enough staff because former workers make more doing “gig work” now. Where leaders of local churches don’t want to talk about an inclusion ministry because they question my love of Jesus because of my support of interfaith collaboration, and where members of the congregation openly admit they haven’t had a new family join in years and question why a divorced mom of a young adult daughter wants to join their church. I can’t imagine Eden when I know families like mine are isolated and struggling to recreate a meaningful community here on earth. THIS Easter season, I’m hoping for a deeper connection to others: “ For Jonathan Pennington, it’s crucial to grasp that the Sermon on the Mount is oriented not only toward some ultimate salvation lying on the horizon but also toward the cultivation of wisdom in the here and now. The “blessings” of the Beatitudes—the macarisms, as he calls them, based on the Greek word makarios that Jesus uses—are descriptions of what it looks like to be living well in the present. Thus “flourishing” …”. (Matthew 5–7, The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing). Peace be with you.

Susan Blais - April 8th, 2022 at 6:09am

I have never thought about l restoring “Eden relationships“. But as we come closer to God, I can see that we are bringing us closer to the relationship which God wanted with mankind. I suppose that it is really what I wanted all along but just did not know it. As I speak to God in prayer, I have begun to talk more to him like “my daddy“. And as I do so, I can envision him relating to me as “his daughter“. To be honest, I have difficulty seeing how I can relate to God as far as relationships with the world, nature, etc. But this scripture has led me to see that perhaps God wants me to expand my relationship with the world. Oh daddy God, show me what I should do to expand my relationships in this world. In my limited capacities, show me how I can be a daughter to the world as well as to you. I love you daddy God, And I know you love me too.

Melody - April 8th, 2022 at 7:36am

Thinking out loud... How often do broken relationships, both on the micro and macro levels, rely on power? So much of my own struggle with other people, especially in the family, had been my desire to run things, to decide how things ought to be done. But healthy relationship is a community experience, not a hierarchical experience. I've gotten really good at developing this in my work, my classroom, but still struggle with it in my home.

And at the macro level--i honestly believe that everyone evil in society can be traced to the desire for power. Even in the church, as Teri describes her heartbreaking experience, people want to stay in their place of status, and likely don't want to try new things or welcome new people because maybe there will be a shifting of the pecking order.

God, help me to be gracious in making room for others to have a voice and a place.

Janet Nygren - April 8th, 2022 at 7:38am

I think the area I have grown in the most in the last 10 years is having a better idea of what it means to be restored in relationship with God. It seems odd to say 30 years into what I would call my Christian life, since "having a personal relationship with God" is such a catch-phrase that I would have agreed with from the very beginning. But to live it is different (and one I am still figuring out). I would say obedience and "doing" characterized more of my earlier years.

I appreciate the question "How do you think about God?" because I think this helps capture what's in our hearts. Too often "a strict dad or someone waiting to catch you messing up" fits the bill. That might produce respect or fear, but not true restoration. I would like to make the alternative more personal--"a being that longs to be connected with you" still feels a bit other-worldly. I loved the picture in Kaitlyn's sermon on the everlasting father--the dad who wants to be the first one you call no matter what trouble you are in. Or how about the bridegroom gazing down the aisle for the bride he can't wait to be married to? Love that never gives up. That's what I'm slowly beginning to truly believe. I'm still waiting for it to transform me to the point that my love for others looks a tiny bit like that.




no categories