2 Corinthians 5:14-2
14 For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. 15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised. 16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given 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, since God is making his appeal 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 in him we might become the righteousness of God. — 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Reconciliation, It’s What Gospel Looks Like
by Jason Dukes
Each of my kids, at some point, has asked the question. What does Jesus look like?
I just tell them that Jesus looks like a pale-skinned, tall, thin man with a well-groomed beard and oily, long, flowing, dark hair and speaks with a British accent. That’s what all the movies say, right? No, seriously, I tell them we don’t exactly know, but most Jewish men of that day had olive skin, dark hair, scraggly beards, short statures, and big noses. Picture a shorter Judd Hirsch (from the old TV show Taxi) with a scraggly beard. They then ask if he wore a white dress like all the illustrated images they’ve seen. I tell them I don’t know.
But what I do know is what the gospel of Jesus looks like, because Paul wrote about it in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.
The gospel message is that Jesus willingly, undeservedly died and rose again to kill off our selfish, sin-filled way of living and in turn resurrect His intended, with-God, goodness-and-love way of living. Then He invited us to live His way with Him (verses 14-15).
This good-news love is compelling! It even compels us to give grace to one another the way it has been given to us, such that we don’t judge according to what we see, but rather we regard one another in love as though we have already been made new in Christ (verses 16-17). This is more than just a salvation cliché – old things passed away, new things come. It is the compelling news and the transforming perspective that secures us and compels us to see everyone we encounter the way Jesus sees us. Thus, we live as representatives of that gospel message, engaging everyone we meet with the “ministry of reconciliation” (verse 18).
Paul then unpacked what that means. We don’t count anyone’s selfish mistakes against them (verse 19). As we demonstrate reconciliation in that way (as stated in the previous sentence), we then declare the Giver of that reconciliation and His gospel message to others, like a diplomat of the Kingdom of Jesus (verse 20). And we do this because of our new identity (“so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”), so that others might discover their undeserved, gracious, good, and loving identity in Christ as well (verse 21).
WHAT NEWS!!! And what a ministry we are involved in!
May we declare and demonstrate and deliver that gospel well, every day, among neighbors and unto the nations.
- In verse 16, Paul wrote, “From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way.” If we don’t know each other in a “purely human way” anymore, because of Jesus, then how should we view and relate with one another?
- Paul even asserted in verse 18 that “Everything is from God,” implying that everyone is made in the image of God and is only alive because of God’s love and has been created from and through Jesus (John 1:1-18). This hits us hard in the current era, when we are wrestling with how to treat one another, especially if we have different political views or different national origins. How should this gospel and ministry of reconciliation inform our views and perspectives and outlooks toward others? Will the gospel supersede our politics, or will our politics be esteemed higher than the gospel?
- Consider the relationships where you live, work, play and serve. What are some specific examples of how you can, by the power of God’s Spirit and in the name of Jesus, engage in the ministry of reconciliation with people daily?
- How will you keep reminding yourself of this gospel of reconciliation, especially on the days when you are struggling to be a diplomat of the gospel to yourself, allowing the gospel to come to bear in your own life?
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.