“Certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’.” –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
“I do not believe God has given up His world. I believe the human race was created in the image of God and though we fell into shameful disgrace and moral tragedy, God Almighty sent Someone to restore us again to that holy place from which we fell. I believe in the ultimate restoration of the world.” –A.W. Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 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. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:17-21 NIV)
Reconciliation: I. To bring (a person) again into friendly relations to or with (oneself or another) after an estrangement. II. To adjust, settle, bring to agreement (a controversy, quarrel, etc.)–Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
The Greek word translated “reconciliation” is katalegé (καταλλαγή). It means adjustment, restoration to divine favor and comes from katallasso: to change, exchange, reconcile. The verse above says that God has reconciled us to himself through the cross of Jesus Christ. If the human race can be reconciled, if we can be restored, to friendly relations as after an estrangement, there must have been a time when God and man were friends. Tolkien said that we feel that estrangement as a “sense of exile.” Genesis says that God walked daily with the man and woman in the Garden. But, that was lost and ever since we have had this quarrel with God, we are hostile to him. As hostile combatants, we need to adjust ourselves, make the carpenter’s level straight, come to our senses as the Prodigal, be brought back from exile, restored to our rightful places as sons of God. Part of it is adjusting ourselves through repentance; part is being made different, a new creation by the power of God, by the blood of the Lamb.
We still wear in our hearts the “rags of lordship” as Tolkien called them, we have the sense of exile, yearn for what we have lost – the relationship with and Presence of God. Deep down we yearn to walk again with Him, we know that we are supposed to be sitting with him in heavenly places, that we are supposed to someday rule and judge with Him. All who reject and rebel against God have that God hole in them that cannot be filled with anything else. And God’s yearning for that reconciliation is even greater. “Come back,” he whispers. “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come” (Revelation 222:17 NIV).
“My wayward children,” says the LORD, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” (Jeremiah 3:22 NLT)
“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach …” (Colossians 1:19-22 NASB)
“The heart of man is not compound of lies
But draws some wisdom from the only Wise
And still recalls him. Though now long estranged
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned
And keeps the rags of lordship once he owned.”