The Ministry of Reconciliation
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
This chapter will talk about Ministry of Reconciliation. It is very important that we consume our lives in the presence of God. Today, we will be talking about another ministry that Paul made mentioned here, the Ministry of Reconciliation.
The ministry of reconciliation is all about our role in the reconciliation of the rest of human race. What are the things that we are to do as Christ’s children? This lesson will help us understand one part of the things that we are to do as Christians.
Living For Christ (v.15)
God’s message is plain and simple (v.11-12)
Just like Paul and the rest of the apostles; they deliver the gospel in a communicable way, plain and simple to understand. As Paul said, “What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.” Paul with other apostles were not trying to commend their own selves but exposing themselves to people in the way they work.
The standard of the world is to prove oneself to be highly educated, to be highly trained, in order that people will believe in the message that they bring. But the gospel of Christ was made plain and simple so that those who will hear it will understand it. And the source of the message is justified not by what is seen, and by the standards of the world, but by the attitude of the heart.
This is why becoming a minister of God is not a matter on the training they have received from the seminary, not on the degree that they have achieved, but it is by the attitude of the heart in terms of their service to God.
I am not discrediting those who have finished seminary trainings, and certainly not those who have high educational training. But God’s message can be brought by anybody who is willing to take part of the gospel, and not by means of educational attainments.
Sometimes, those who are highly educated are those that make the gospel of Christ become more and more complicated.
Once there was an atheist who is highly educated. He tried attending a small church. And after the service, he had an opportunity to talk to a lady. Then he began talking all about the big bang theory, Darwin’s evolution, genetic engineering, mutation and all other things. The lady just listened to him quietly as he impressively explains all those theories.
After he had said everything, he asks the lady about her reaction on these things. The lady said; “Well actually, I am not a brilliant person. I do understand what you are saying, but it was indeed very complicated. One thing I am sure though, that is Christ died for my sin and he gave me hope. It’s really up to you if you believe in those things and settled yourself in hopelessness. But as for me, I would rather hope for something that was promised.”
Becoming out of mind for God (v.13)
For the world, Christians are out of their mind. Here are just some of the things that the world doesn’t understand.
- Why would someone bless an enemy?
- Why would you give money when you yourself need it?
- Why would someone cry in prayer?
- Why would someone raise their hands to praise God?
- Why would someone give back 10 percent of his income back to God? Was it sort of tax?
- Why would someone suffer to serve others?
- Why would someone give up his possession in following Christ?
- Why would someone give up his career for religion?
- Why would someone say NO to drinking alcohol and other pleasures?
These are only some of the things that the world does not understand. For the world, Christians are indeed out of their minds. As Paul said, “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God.” The reason is very simple; it is because we are doing it for the Lord.
“If we are in our right mind, it is for you.” We do things for the Lord, and we do things to share it to others, that they too will also take hold of the gospel that we have received, and that they too will receive salvation.
Driven by love of Christ (v.14-15)
We work in the ministry because of our love for Christ. Sometimes though, we feel tired of serving others. Sometimes, we feel like giving up everything. Sometimes, we feel like going back to where we came from. But the message of God is very clear; we are to do the ministry out of our love to our Lord Jesus Christ.
As Paul said, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” The “compels us” here is “constrained us” (συνεχω) in some of the versions. The word means, to hold together, to press together, to shut up then to press on, to urge, to impel, or excite (Barnes). Paul was actually driven by the excitement and compassionate labor for God’s people because of Christ’s love, so as how God demonstrated such love to the world of giving his only begotten Son.
As Paul continues; “…we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” The idea is that, Jesus died “in the place of” someone, or some people. In this case, it is in place of all of us. And since he died, we also died. Not in the sense that we died with him literally, but we are now dead to sin (Ephesians 2:5).
Now, as Christ died for us, we are also resurrected with him that we, those who lived (those who accepted Christ) will no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. Meaning, we are not supposed to live for ourselves, but for God.
The struggle of many Christians (especially the new ones) is where to focus. In the book “God Focus” by Walter Price, he made it clear that we Christians have to realign our focus. It is not us that we have to see, but it is God. The book of Isaiah, tells us on how to rightly focus to God. It is because, God is the only “Holiest” (Isaiah 6:1-3), which also affirms to what Jesus said; “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt.5:48)”.
Living As Ambassadors (v.20)
Now that we are convinced that each one of us has to live in Christ, then we can now start living as Ambassadors of Christ.
“Ambassador” means a representative of. He is the one who brings the message of the one sending him, he is the one who implements and protects the dignity of the one he is representing. This is very similar in the case of our international ambassadors. They are diplomats who represent the country in our nation in the implementation of various negotiations between the country that he is representing and the country where he is.
Grasping the new view of godly wisdom (v.16-17)
There are two kinds of wisdom, wisdom that is coming from the world and the wisdom that is coming from God. There are times that we Christians are mistakenly identifying wisdom from the world to be godly wisdom. We have to remember that there is good wisdom of the world, yet wisdom that is coming from God is totally different and does not work so well with the wisdom of the world.
One test that we can do in identifying godly wisdom is by asking, who is being benefited? Was it God or was it man? Who is glorified with particular actions? Was it God or was it ourselves? Now talking about godly wisdom is a huge topic. We will only try to concentrate concerning “reconciliation” for the purpose of staying on our topic.
What does godly wisdom has to do with being ambassador of Christ? Usually an ambassador to other countries possesses the knowledge of the country he is representing. He knows well the economic policy, the security policy, the laws, how the nation is being run, the chain of command etc. Similarly, an ambassador of Christ has to know first and foremost Christ. He also has to know how God works and definitely understand the standards of living a righteous life.
James 3:17-18 tells us a strong definition of godly wisdom; “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace loving, considerate, submission, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
Earlier, we talked about living in Christ. And Paul made it clear in verse 17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” Before we are futile minded, now, we are lovers of God. Before we live and work for ourselves, now, we work in the name of the Lord. This is why as Paul said, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view…”
Therefore, if we think those pastors and ministers, and all other people in the ministry are employees of our Church, then we are wrong. They were called to be part of the ministry of reconciliation, an ambassador of Christ, not by the members of the Church. If we think that we were just called to sit down and do nothing, then ask for godly wisdom that we will come into our senses that God called us to do something. “Do not be merely hearers of word, so deceives yourselves but be doers of the word. (James 1:22)
Allowing God to put to effect the reconciliation through us (v.18-19)
God did not make another being to put to effect the reconciliation he gave for us. Instead, he instructed us to go and make disciple of all nations and gave us different gifts to edify one another and such gifts will be used for the expansion of the kingdom of God, and that through the Church, the manifold wisdom God will also be revealed to the authorities, government and to the lost world.
There are Christians who are already happy to become Christians, but it has been a great burden and uneasiness to serve God and give time to him. There are Christians who refuse to be used for godly purposes. Guess what, sometimes, we are like Jonah. We are so concerned on the things that benefit us, just as Jonah was so concerned on the vine that gives him shade. Yet, we don’t want to have anything to do where God has a concern, just like God is so concern for the people of Nineveh. (Jonah 4:10-11)
What are the things that hinder us to work for the Lord? And now that we obeyed God and that God is doing so great things for our assignment. Suddenly, we are angry in the way God works. Or sometimes, we want to abandon the ministry that he has given us?
The message that tells us to be involved in the ministry does not come from me, but it comes from God. And such truth has already been revealed long time ago, that Paul wrote it in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “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 sin against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
This truth simply tells us that God gave us this ministry, because first and foremost, we have received that message.
Imploring that reconciliation to others (v. 20-21)
Now that we become ambassadors of Christ, it is only imperative for us to tell the people the message that he gives. In our passage, NIV used the word “implore”, some versions might have used “plea”, but the idea is to beg or to plea in Christ’s behalf to the world to be reconciled with Christ.
Now here, we can see that the word “ambassadors” elevates the message of God to be something that has to be taken considered. The message of God has to be fearfully taken since it comes with the authority of Christ. The idea is the message has to be enforced as to what and how God wants us to be reconciled with him. As ambassadors, we are not to negotiate with “our own” terms, but the terms given by our Lord.
The same thing should be true to all of us. We are not here to listen to the things that we want to listen, but to the things that God is telling us. Choosing God’s words that seems to be pleasing in our ears is not part of our work, but to plainly listen to God’s word whether or not it is painfully true.
As Hebrews 4:12 says:”For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thought and attitudes of the heart.” Distorting God’s word is not a part of our work.
Encouraging and training people to be a part of the ministry is energy consuming and is tedious work for the ministers. And there will be people who are no good other than seeing what is wrong with Christ’s ministers as if they have been a part of God’s ministry. The effect was discouragement to those who are in the ministry.
As Paul have said in 2 Timothy 2:2; “And the things that you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
Unless someone can give me a passage that says we need to stop preaching the gospel and training people to be involve in preaching, in teaching and in other ministries, I will not stop my training and teaching and producing leaders for the ministry. Unless someone will give me a passage that the pastors are the only people who have given the message, and was authorized to teach and preach and that we cannot train some from the congregation to become leaders someday and take over the pulpit one day, I will not stop obeying the underlying truths in the ministry of reconciliation.
The idea is to beg, to make an appeal to you brothers, therefore, I am begging you brethrens; “Be reconciled with God (v.20).” Then and only then, you will be able to grasp the message of reconciliation. The same message has to be passed on.