Fence mending is not a favorite occupation for most cowboys. In the first place, it is very difficult to do from the back of a horse, which is the place from which cowboys most prefer to work. Secondly, handling barbed wire can cause discomfort when trying to bring two broken strands together.
Verse 17 refers to the Believer's Position as being 'in Christ', this is the result of personal faith, which brings us into the family of God (John 1:12). This verse also speaks of the Believer's Practice. Having been born-again, he is seen now as a new creature with a new life before him and the old life is left behind. Being 'in Christ' indicates newness of life and practice (1Peter 4:2-4).
Verse 18 also speaks of this new relationship, telling us that not only has God 'reconciled us to Himself', but has also 'given to us this ministry of reconciliation'. The idea of reconciliation has to do with a mutual change between two opposing parties, with the intent to bring them together.
When a person is saved from the penalty of his sin, through faith in Christ, he is reconciled to God. Those who were in opposition have been brought together, resulting in the new birth, the new creation. This is what Christ did on the cross as He reached out to a lost world with one hand and to God with the other and brought the two together.
Not only so, but He has commissioned us to seek, in His stead, to continue this ministry of bringing the lost to God through faith in Christ.
Just as in fence mending, we take two opposing strands of barbed wire and bring them together...but between them, we put a splice and the two become joined together. By the way, we can be reconciled when we mend broken relationships between family members and friends...Christ is the splice.
Ira B. Wilson wrote "Make Me A Blessing", a good reminder of our ministry of reconciliation.