2 Corinthians 5:16-21
16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him like that. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 18 Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ 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 He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ; certain that God is appealing through us, we plead on Christ's behalf, "Be reconciled to God." 21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. — 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Reconciliation with God
by Jason Dukes
This week we are considering how the earliest Christians understood the Good News which Christ clarified for us through His death and resurrection. Today we focus on what Paul came to realize with regard to how God has reconciled us to Himself.
Reconciliation is defined as a restoring of relationship. Since the choice made in the Garden of Eden, humans have lived pursuing things other than relationship with God. God knew Adam and Eve would make their choice and that humanity would follow their lead. Yet because He is love, He created us anyway, with a plan not to allow our sinful, discontented living to last forever. God nailed to the cross our pursuit of things other than Him. Then through the resurrection, He offered us a restored relationship in and through and by and with Christ.
Because of this, we no longer identify ourselves by what we have done. How good is that news? Do you believe it? Because if you do, what I am about to suggest to you is absolutely, securely, fully, eternally true. Say the following statement out loud, filling in the blank with your name: “Even on my absolutely worst day, I am still _______ IN CHRIST.”
That’s what the reconciliation has created: our new identity. As new creations, we know God and one another in a completely new way (verse 16). We no longer live as ones who know good and evil, identified by the deadly choice in Eden (verse 17). We now live by His gracious resurrection power, knowing good in spite of evil.
God now calls us to declare and demonstrate the message that “God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us” (verse 19). In other words, God wants us to live utterly surrendered and fully alive because of what He wants to do through us! “We are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us” (verse 20).
Did you catch that? Our lives—reconciled with God, believing His love and therefore living His love together (John 13:34-35)—now demonstrate and declare to others the gracious work of reconciliation Christ accomplished.
But please hear me clearly on this point. Our being ambassadors for Christ does not mean we have simply become defenders of Truth. Verse 21 does not say, “He made the One who was the Truth a Truth-giver to us, so that through our own righteousness we might become Truth-defenders for Him.” God does not enable us as His church to unreconcile ourselves from the rest of humanity. Paul wrote that “God was reconciling the world to Himself.”
We are not Truth-defenders—we are Truth-bearers. What makes that so significant is that the Righteous One reconciled a bunch of unrighteous ones to now deliver the news that He is offering His righteousness to all who are unrighteousness (Romans 4:4-5).
We are not ambassadors for Christ to point out how unrighteous everyone else is. Rather, we are to be ambassadors who point out how unrighteous we ourselves were, and yet God “made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (verse 21). Like Christ, we are to be ambassadors who reside right in the middle of all the unrighteousness. We are to embody His reconciliation by going close enough to love, as Christ loved, those yet to believe His reconciliation. We demonstrate through our own grateful, transformed lives how the One who knew no sin became sin for us, thereby declaring to others that He became sin for them as well.
Many people in the world live in an unrighteous reality because they have not yet believed what Christ has already done to give them His righteousness. We believe and are now compelled to go near them and share with them this message of reconciliation.
May we live as reconciled ambassadors for the sake of demonstrating and declaring Christ’s Good News of reconciliation.
- Do you understand your new, Christ-given, cross-forgiven, resurrection-secured identity in Christ?
- Are you close with people who have yet to discover that Jesus has secured that same identity for them? If not, will you engage in the ministry of reconciliation?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.