The heavy subject of atonement is nothing to make light of. But reconciling to the Being of Light requires nothing less.
The word “atonement” means reparation for a wrong or injury. It derives from a word that denotes “unity” or “reconciliation,” especially between God and man. Its earliest form came from a now obsolete verb “to one” which meant to unite. Atonement was the combination of the word parts of at+ one + -ment.
Atonement is about restoring a sense of oneness and it requires a reconciling of the affected parties to one another. In Christian theology, Jesus is said to have atoned for humanity’s sins and thus reconciled God to man.
Jesus certainly did bring man and God back together, but it wasn’t God who needed to be reconciled to man, but man to God. It was man who had strayed away from God and was shown, by Jesus’ immense compassion, wisdom, and good works, the true nature of God. Mankind had imagined God to be manlike, tribal, having favorites and punishing enemies. Jesus was not like that at all. His mission included everyone, though not everyone accepted that. Jesus showed us what a Godlike man was, rather than a manlike God.
Jesus taught us how to pray. When we pray, we often ask God to do something for us. Jesus showed us that we can also do something for God. We can make prayer a worship and praise, recognizing God’s true nature as infinite, divine, perfect Love. The love of divine Love shines impartially on all. Jesus said, “Be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
”Matt. 5:44, 45, 48
This is not saying that God condones evil or demands perfectionism. It simply denotes His unconditional love and goodness. Like sunshine, God blesses all with His light and love. When things go wrong, it is not God who did it, nor God who needs to change. God is always light, always love. It is man who needs to reconcile his version of reality with what God made and what God knows. For instance, if we see an enemy, rather than hating them, we can begin to reconcile by putting that enemy in a different light, the light of love and understanding.
It is fine to ask God to do something for us if we understand that He is already doing all the good we want Him to do. This kind of prayer is like asking the sun to shine. Asking simply focuses our attention to recognize and receive more of what God always gives. But if we think God is not doing something for us and we want Him to change, this is misunderstanding how things work. This is thinking that we can control God and make Him change His mind and correct His neglect of us. This is thinking that God needs to placate us and atone for our problems as His mistakes.
Many people blame God for the evil that is in the world. Or they say, “If God is so great and good, why does He allow disasters and tragedies and wars and corruption?” According to Jesus, God shines like the sun on everyone. Do we blame the sun for causing the injustice it shines on?
Instead of blaming God for evil, we could instead understand that it is our job to reconcile that evil to God’s goodness by making the evil reform. Rather than asking God to atone for His mistake and fix evil, it is our job to bring the darkness into God’s light and see it dissipated naturally. The darkness is not the reality of God’s creating. Light can never be aware of darkness, because wherever light is, darkness isn’t. God’s first command was, “Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good.”Gen. 1:3, 4
The Bible explains that God is divine light and in that light no darkness can exist. The darkness of evil is not an entity or a thing. It is the opposite of God. Yet, God is infinite All, having no opposite. Even physics describes darkness simply as the absence of light. God’s light is everywhere and never absent.
To reconcile means to cause to coexist in harmony, to restore friendly relations, to settle a disagreement, to make things consistent with each other. It derives from an Old French word implying a powerful “bringing back together.” When we reconcile to God, we also reconcile to God’s creation.
The disciple John wrote,“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.”I John 1:4-7
God made us in His/Her image. God is not in our image. It is our own walk in light or darkness that determines our experience. Reconciling our darkness to God’s light brings fellowship with God and with all that God made, with each other and with ourselves. Atonement is making light of darkness. By being what we already are—the reflection of God’s light–the atonement becomes what it truly is: at-one-ment.