I have been reading John Paul Lederach’s book The Journey Towards Reconciliation. Lederach is widely known for his pioneering work in conflict transformation and he has been involved in conciliation work in Colombia, the Philippines, Nepal, and in East and West Africa. He has written many books and comes to the subject both as an academic and a practitioner. He also brings theological thinking to the discussion, regularly unpacking challenges to Christians. His work stretches the mind and speaks to the heart.
Written in 1999 this is a very personal reflection with much practical advice on the dynamics of peace making. In my view we need not to lose sight of the fact that when we are engaged in reconciliation we are actually engaged in making peace. The intertwining of these notions (reconciliation and making peace) is perhaps best shown by two translations of the same verses from the Bible – 2 Corinthians 5 vv18-21. First of all from the Contemporary English Version:
18 God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others.
19 What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. 20 We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. 21 Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.
And then from the New International Version:
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.