Back to Top

What does reconciliation mean?

For me, it begins by accepting the gospel and reconciling with God through Jesus. It is repenting my sins and daily following Jesus by living according to his teachings. 

Reconciliation also means continually reconciling various cultural norms that I embrace. As a Korean-Paraguayan living in Canada, I am enriched by these three cultures but when I try to embody all of them, sometimes I am not sure what cultural norms I need to follow and what to do when these values contradict each other. For example, when I’m asked to finish a task, should I go by Korean time (pali-pali), Paraguayan time (tranquilo), or Canadian time? When I greet a church leader for the first time, should I handshake, bow 90 degrees, or simply wave my hand? When I go out for a meal with colleagues, should we go dutch, allow the oldest person to pay, or simply wait until the person with the most financial resources pays? With some life experiences, I am in a much better position but still, often, I need to find ways to reconcile within me when different cultural norms oppose each other and decide how to act according to my biblical understanding of love, justice, and peace. 

To live as someone who embodies all these cultures and engaging in them is not easy

Moreover, reconciliation means to celebrate the good within the society where I am situated and at the same time, being aware of the sins within it, and constantly finding ways to mend the broken relationships. I love and celebrate the dynamism of Korean culture and society, the emphasis on the importance of family, respect toward elders, and community, and their K-drama and K-pop are irresistibly good. Yet, I’m troubled by their strict hierarchical structure in relationships, strong militaristic culture that allows the society to tolerate violence, and the mistreatment toward foreigners due to their ethno-nationalist identity.

I love and celebrate Paraguayan culture that respects on Indigenous values, a very relaxed lifestyle, and a higher regard for relationships than work and tasks. At the same time, I am against the ubiquitous practices of corruption, the wide acceptance of machismo that harms and destroys the lives of women and children, and how I will never be a full Paraguayan because of my physical appearance. 

I love and celebrate Canadian culture that welcomes people from various backgrounds, the commitment toward multiculturalism, and a robust focus in social service. Nonetheless, I am opposed to the settler’s colonialism that still harms and disrupts Indigenous people and communities, the systemic racism that is embedded within Canadian multiculturalism, and the continual practices of hatred against Black and Asian communities. 

Because of this faith, I trust that God is working mightily, even though my eyes cannot see them.

To live as someone who embodies all these cultures and engaging in them is not easy and it deeply hurts when someone points out a negative aspect of one of these societies because they are part of me. Sometimes, the critiques sound deeply personal. But, I have come to learn that to love someone is to love as that person is, loving both the positive and negative aspects. If I only love the positive sides, I’m actually not loving that person holistically. In the same way, to love these cultures means to love both the positive and love in spite of the negative aspects of them. And as someone who has accepted God’s ministry of reconciliation, I believe that I am called into these broken relationships and do my best to mend them, to heal them, and to create new bridges that lead toward life-giving reconciliation. 

Lastly, reconciliation is a hopeful belief that is rooted in faith that somehow, God will reconcile all things. When I am reminded again how sins and evil are widespread in the world, I quickly become disheartened and hopeless. To be honest, I really do not know how we will resolve all the messiness of this world! But, because I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead to overcome all sins and injustices, I know that one day, God will restore and reconcile all things. Because of this faith, I trust that God is working mightily, even though my eyes cannot see them. That is why, I can dream of a day where North and South Korea will reconcile and the people of both countries will come together and live in peace. I dream of a day where the land in Canada will be shared respectfully and fairly with the Indigenous people and the Indigneous justice will become one of the top priorities of the Canadian government. As a result, there will be no more incidents of missing Indigenous women and the mistreatment of Indigenous people in health and social services. I dream of a day where there will be no more corruption and crime in Paraguay; therefore, people will sleep without locking their doors. I also dream of a day where there will be no more war in the world, all debts are forgiven, women of colour lead powerfully, no more forced migrations, poverty will be eradicated, and climate change will be a thing of the past. And I dream of a day where all nations, tribes, ethnicities, and people will come together and worship our Creator God and the Lamb for restoring and reconciling all things. “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honour, and glory, and might forever and ever!”

Because of this hopeful belief, I can boldly dream of these days. Furthermore, this belief empowers me to daily commit in the ministry of reconciliation in the areas that I am called today, here and now.

So, tell me, what does reconciliation mean to you?

Photo by Mayur Deshpande on Unsplash

The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.