We heard a great sermon today from our new interim pastor, Pr. Gary Englert, based on 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
I’ve read this passage before, more than once, but Pr. Gary brought out some aspects of it in a way I hadn’t thought of before. His final point is that as Christians we are all ambassadors for Christ. We are called to share the Good News and to bring the message of reconciliation and forgiveness to others.
But before he got to this point, he talked about how we get to be ambassadors in the first place. First, we must recognize within ourselves our own sinfulness and need to be reconciled with God. Sin separates us from God, but the holy creator of the universe came to die for our sins so that we could be reconciled with Him. He did this because in spite of our sinfulness He loves us.
Once we have accepted Christ’s loving act of reconciliation, this love “compels us” to live for Him. Pr. Gary looked at the meaning of the Greek word that is translated “compel” in the NIV and “controls” in the NASB. He likened it to a cattle shoot that is used to corral a cow so that the farmer can give it shots. We are pressed in by His love and have no choice but to share it.
We now belong to Him. We are a new creation and God no longer holds our sins against us. One minute we are sinners, the next minute Christ says “you are my ambassador.” From sinner to ambassador for the creator of the universe is quite a promotion; but who better to spread the awesome news of reconciliation and forgiveness than those who have understood the need to be reconciled and forgiven, and have accepted Christ’s offer to fill that need?
Think you aren’t qualified to be an ambassador for Christ? Think again. As Pr. Gary said, it’s not usually a good idea to question the God of the universe. Christ sent us out to spread His Good News.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20.
The only qualification necessary is to belong to Christ. As you go, He will be with you through the power of His Holy Spirit. The Good News of reconciliation and forgiveness are what our world needs most. Christians are the designated messengers and representatives of Christ on earth. As Paul implored, “be reconciled to God” and share that reconciliation with others.