What excites you? What gives you purpose in life, waking you up each day with a desire to go into the world and get after living life in a big way? In what way are you “driven?”
More often than not, when we hear that someone is said to be “driven,” it is a statement about some negative characteristic. We do indeed see lots of driven people in our world. For many, it is about power and authority. This is especially evident in government. The advanced age of so many in Congress is absolutely startling. In actual fact, out of our 100 United States Senators, nine of them are in their 80s and 22 are in their 70s, with 38 in their 60s! Good night! Don’t they ever want to retire and play with their grandchildren (or great, great-grandchildren)? Well … no, they don’t. They simply can’t let go of the allure of power.
Other people are obsessed by wealth. Someone once said, “Money is not the most wonderful thing in life; love is. So I’m in extra good shape, because I love money!” Arnold Schwarzenegger quipped, “Money doesn’t make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.” But you get the picture, you know how people are indeed driven to accumulate both wealth and material assets, always expecting that this abundance will bring true happiness.
At one time in his life, the Apostle Paul was driven to zealously uphold the traditions of the historic Jewish faith and observance of the Law. A threat to this predominance was the growth of a fledgling group of followers of a Jewish teacher named Jesus. These early Christians of the church needed to be shut down and eliminated, and he was a crusader to make that happen.
But change came to Paul’s life and values system in a most dramatic way. We could say that his drive-train did a 180! He was still driven, but the direction and content were entirely different. No longer was it about the stuff that could be measured by earthly standards and metrics. No longer was it about personal gain or aggrandizement. It was now all about living for God.
This change happened because of a new view about Jesus Christ. Paul now understood that God had given Christ to die for sin as the grand sacrifice for all who would believe and thereby find eternal life. Though he would still be wrongly accused of being crazy and self-serving, Paul knew he had a new mission in life … a new drive.
Being vitally related to God changes our identity viewpoint of both ourselves and those around us. In today’s passage, Paul is saying that the Christian has a new way of looking at people around him. It is not the same way people of the world look at each other. We see others with Kingdom glasses. We see them either as brothers and sisters in Christ, or we see them as enslaved by an alien kingdom – in need of our services as an ambassador of the Kingdom of Light.
So there is no reason for the Christian to be insecure. You are not just an engineer, a nurse, a teacher, a mom or dad… you are an ambassador for the Creator-God – the One who holds it all together, the eternal Father. That sure beats anything your unsaved neighbor is able to say he or she has membership within. You represent the sovereign of the universe as an agent of reconciliation and peace.
How well do you serve in this assignment? Does it “drive” you at all? Do you drive down the street and hurt for the disheveled people you see passing on the sidewalks? Do you see the classmates of your children at school who clearly come from a difficult environment at home, one where faith is the primary ingredient of life that is missing? Is your heart moved when our missions families come home and tell us about the great work of God with Iranian asylum seekers in Europe or in our multi-ethnic, sister church in the capital city of Kazakhstan?
It is nice and a very worthy thing to succeed in the responsibilities of work and family. But our primary occupation is as an ambassador of Christ to bring lost people to a reconciliation with the God from whom they’re estranged. Nothing beats that for personal identity. That is a “good driven.”
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 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.
16 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. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 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. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.