Let’s have a poll question today to start our discussion of the second half of 2nd Corinthians chapter five …
Which of the following would you see as the position of greatest import and potential impact? …
- Chief Executive Officer of a Fortune 500 company?
- A leading member of Congress?
- A pop star with 17 million followers on Twitter?
- Manager of the Baltimore Orioles or head coach of the Dallas Cowboys?
- An ambassador of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
You selected number “4”? Logical, but wrong. The correct answer is “5.” And that is what you are if you are a redeemed sinner-turned-saint through the blood of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul again turns to a jocular defense of his ministry leadership role, it being criticized within the Corinthian community by opponents. They said things about him that he was arrogant and boastful about his activity and roles in the church. We know also that they did not think he made the most impressive personal presentation. And some simply called him a nut-case, saying he was out of his mind. They had visible successes and grandiose impressions; Paul was talking about an inner faith and a future, unseen hope…
2 Corinthians 5:11 – 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.
Paul said that his motivation was directed toward the Corinthians for their eternal well-being, however poorly they might interpret it. The message that came to Paul on that Damascus Road changed everything about his life and motivation. His life had a new purpose and drive.
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.
I’ve gotten a bit of a feeling that some folks are wearying of my Greek word references. Sorry … just trying to make passages come alive a bit more. But do this … look back at those verses 14 and 15 and think about what word – if better defined with all the color of its usage in the original language – would most make these verses jump out even more?
I think it is rather clearly the verb “compels.” What did Paul mean when he chose this word, and how might the original readers have understood it? The word means in a more literal sense to “press tightly” … like to squeeze something together. This word was used in Luke 8:45 to describe the throngs of people who were around Jesus and pressing tightly against him – in that moment when the woman who needed healing exhibited her great faith by somehow reaching through the “press” to merely touch the hem of his garment. So Paul was saying he felt the squeeze to live life in an intentionally bold way of high-level motivation and action.
In fact, Paul no longer just had simple, worldly categories of seeing people as, say, being rich or poor, important or mundane, slave or free. No, rather he saw them in one of two categories: stuck in the old category of lost in sin in a lost world controlled by the Evil One, or a totally new creation in Christ.
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.
People were either reconciled to God or not. Those who were at peace with the Lord now had a new role to play as agents of reconciliation. This is the biggest story of big stories. It is what EVERYTHING is about. Life if not really about all the survival stuff we think is materially important. No! We have a new mission, and it ain’t no small thing … it is awesome …
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.
So, don’t you feel better about yourself right now? Hope so. And oh, that means you’ve got work to do that counts for eternity, doing that work today, tomorrow, and every other day until the end. You can stop reading now and go be an ambassador in your world.