Vertical Reconciliation must be demonstrated by Horizontal Reconciliation

In a world that is fractured into so many warring factions, where the ‘other’ is looked upon with suspicion if not with open hostility, the message of reconciliation in Christ needs to be proclaimed by the church loud and clear so that the whole world might hear it. We Christians have forgotten that it is through our love for one another and through our unity that the world would recognize us as disciples of Christ (John 13:35) and hear our message. It is high time that we recognize our failures in this area and repent so that we might effectively bring the message of reconciliation to a hurting world. As the followers of Christ we must remember that God in Christ ‘othered’ his ‘self’ (became human) in order that we who became ‘others’ may be ‘selfed’ (restored in divine image and likeness).

Our Naga society today is filled with various types of violence and conflicts. Shooting down humans seems to have become a game. The conflict between the underground factions has rendered our land a very complex, dangerous and a place insecure to live in. In such a world of hatred and enmity the importance of the message of reconciliation cannot be overemphasized. Reconciliation in and through Christ is a prominent theme in the New Testament. The Greek word used in the New Testament for reconciliation is katallage. It would mean drawn the other or reconciling the other. I prefer to render it as ‘selfing the other by othering the self.’ In katallage the ‘self’ draws itself to the ‘other’ and the ‘other’ is drawn towards the ‘self’. Moreover, in case of a conflict in our relationship, it is essential that we not only take initiative to eliminate it and restore the relationship, but also permit others to restore with us.

The self and the other intersect into one new human who vertically intersects with the divine and horizontally intersects with the fellow human beings and the whole creation. In the New Testament Paul uses this word to express the soterial /salvific work of God in Christ (II Cor. 58f). It is understood in two ways: firstly, as God in Christ reconciling the humankind into Himself (the vertical dimension of reconciliation between God and human beings in Christ), and secondly, the humans reconciled through faith in the faithfulness of Christ living as the new creation (i.e., the horizontal dimension of reconciliation between human beings). In other words, vertical reconciliation must be demonstrated by horizontal reconciliation. Where there is not horizontal love there cannot be vertical love. The Bible gives equal importance to both horizontal as well as vertical relationships. When this ideal relationship materializes; the social stratifications cease to matter and the very stereotyped identities “master and slave” become irrelevant. However, it often seems that we overemphasize the vertical dimension and neglect the other. How different is this thinking from the ideology that teaches that if you truly love God you will kill those who disagree with you and do not have your exact theology.

Therefore, it is vital that we build and maintain healthy horizontal relationship as a corollary of our right vertical relationship.

Tasoni Moon
Lecturer, Trinity Theological College
Thahekhu, Dimapur