Ministers of ReconciliationApril 19, 2018
The Bible passage found in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 is the heartbeat of our ministry. God desires to make an appeal through us to any unbeliever with whom we come into relationship. This is the ministry of reconciliation to which every believer is called.
14 For the love of Christ controls (and compels) us, because we have concluded this:
that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if (this is the big if dividing humanity) anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(Colossians 2-3, old self, new self)
18 All this is from God,
who through Christ reconciled us to himself
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Reconciliation, then, is multiphasic. Only those who have been reconciled personally and eternally to God can experience the necessary internal reconciliation with the self that can then turn toward external reconciliation with others.
Our reconciliation with God through Christ makes possible a reconciled self – who then becomes a minister of reconciliation, an ambassador of the Kingdom, entrusted with the message of reconciliation to the world.
And what is this message of reconciliation? In a person, in a word, in reality: CHRIST.
If you have a heart to see generations and races and nations reconciled, then the love of Christ must control. The mind of Christ must be cultivated on the matters of our day and we must ruthlessly commit to knowing nothing but Christ as we approach the very contentious conversations of this generation.
So, what does it mean that the love of Christ would control us?
Love is one of the most grossly misunderstood and misrepresented ideas of this age. There is a culture-wide delusion that love is about me – what I want or desire or feel. And I’m not just talking here about the misunderstanding of erotic love – I’m also talking about the love of God.
None of us wants to misrepresent God as we serve as Ambassadors of His Kingdom and ministers of His reconciling love. So, what is the nature of the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ who commands that we love as He has loved us?
Consider that from the Biblical testimony Love is:
- The nature of God who is described as Love
- The command of God and the new command of Jesus
- The gift of God to His people – a love in which God intends us to abide
And the Love of God is given to the people of God in order that the fruit of Love might be produced.
Why? So the world will know who Christ is – indeed, that the image bearers of Jesus, Christians, will be a witness of reconciling love to the world.
None of those ideas are new. We know that God is love.
We know the Shema and the Greatest commandment and the second command.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength; And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
We know the new commandment Jesus gives on the night of the last supper.
John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We know I Corinthians 13 as the love chapter which talks about the gift of love and you know the Galatians 5 list of the fruit of the Spirit which leads off with love.
We also know that God’s people are to be rooted and grounded in love; called to let love be genuine; commanded to put on love over all other virtues – not as a put on – but as the evidence to the world that we are covered by the love of Christ – indeed, that it is Christ’s love that controls us.
These are not new truths – they are in fact eternally old. So how is that the world so thoroughly misunderstands the love of God in Christ?
Therein lies the challenge set before us! To be witnesses to this love – to be Ambassadors of Love’s Kingdom, to be ministers of Love’s reconciling power – yes, to bring sinners into right restored redeemed relationship with the Father, but also to offer the hope of reconciliation with the self – and then, yes, reconciliation across every dividing wall of hostility between us in our homes and communities and nations.
What the world needs now is what the world has always needed: love. But not a perversion of love and not a saccharine substitute – real love, God’s love in Christ Jesus. This is the calling of the Christian in the world – to be love incarnate – bearing not only Christ’s image but His radically self-sacrificing, God-honoring love into the world.
Reality check: loving the unlovable and the unlovely…
- See the person…not from a human or worldly point of view (whatever it is that revolts you)
- Pray for Christ’s love to control and compel you forward.
- Pray for the Spirit of God’s love to fill and flow through you.
- “All this from God” – all of it! Every bit of it!
- Not me but Thee (Galatians 2:20) – I could never love that person, but Jesus does…and I am His.
And although we put on Christ’s love over all other virtues, our love must be more than a put on – “all this is from God” – eternally, internally and externally.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow Ambassadors of the Kingdom, ministers of reconciliation, let us engage the world that God so loves as people who – rooted, grounded, abiding in love, with love as the covering over us – genuinely engage, compelled and controlled by the love of Christ through which we have been reconciled to God – for He has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation.