How often do you think about words? Words are tools for describing reality, and sometimes, the reality is so deep and important, whole books of words hardly scratch the surface of the idea’s fullness. In that case, we sometimes try to come up with a single word to wrap all the parts of an idea in a tidy package.
One of these big words is “atonement.” This one word holds the fullness of God’s plan for your own life—and everything else in all creation. Every time we come across the word atonement, we get to remember the good news about Jesus. Something should fire in our minds about the deeper meaning of this word, our eyes open to a world where Jesus is the atonement.
The English word “atone” comes from the two words: “at one.” So, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be pronounced “ah-tone-ment.” Instead, we should say “at-one-ment” because atonement is reconciliation with God and being “at one” with Him. It reminds us of how Jesus’s death and resurrection turn back the clock on the fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), inviting us to re-enter Eden in perfect fellowship with God. Jesus’s work of atonement completely reverses our rebellion against God’s love, majesty, and authority. His Holy Spirit moves us to agree with Him so we, too, desire that His will be done on earth and in our own lives. Through this one-ness with Him, He compels us to turn away from sin and toward loving relationship with Him.
And this one-ness doesn’t just apply to our individual relationships with God—it applies to all of creation. Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, God has made the way for heaven and earth to be one, as they were in the Garden of Eden. At Jesus’s return, all will be made new. We can celebrate that in Him is found all glory and honor and power forever (Revelation 7:12).
There are many pages and books devoted to the full significance of Jesus’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, but if you can remember this one little pronunciation tip, you can remember instantly that through Jesus, we can be AT ONE with God—and that is the heart of atonement. • Andrew and Lydia Huntress
• God is the source of all goodness and life, which is why being “at one” with Him is the best place to be. And through Jesus’s death and resurrection, we can live in this one-ness without having to earn or achieve it— Jesus already did the work. How could resting in this truth affect the way we interact with God and others?
He [Jesus Christ] himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. 1 John 1:2 (NLT)