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 5:16-21
What needs to be said about this magnificent text? No extra words can do it justice or make it any more profound. So, as a model of what this text demands from us in verse 20, which is to point others to Jesus, I will merely call attention to some the of sentences that most convict me.
Since we no longer see people within the body of Christ “from a worldly perspective,” as merely other humans, I was convicted about whether I truly see those in our local fellowship as my brothers and sisters. I thought about what I would be willing to do for my biological sister in her time of need, and I wondered if I am willing to do the same for those in my local fellowship.
The idea of being a new creation in Christ is both a terrific honor and a terrible privilege. As for the former, what a blessing that I get to be an adopted child of the Godhead and co-heir of the eternal kingdom. How magnificent! As for the latter, when sin creeps into my life and I feel much more like the old thing than the new thing, I know that through the Spirit I can overcome that sin. Thank goodness for verse 19: In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself.
Verse 21a is a punch to the stomach every time I see it, and verse 21b is an oxygen tank that helps me catch my breath. Jesus was made sin because of me. The eternal second Person of the Trinity—who was in perfect communion with the Father and the Spirit—endured and experienced sin because I am a rebel hater of God. If it weren’t for me, Jesus would not have had to suffer. I can barely catch my breath and hold back the tears at the horror of my wretchedness.
It is only because of the glory the Godhead receives in 21b that I can bear it: So that in him we might become the righteousness of God in Him. In spite of my putridness, God receives glory because of my being made righteous in and through Christ. How wonderful! I am convicted that I make too little of Jesus’ humiliation because of my sin, knowing He wants to forgive me. I must live as one made righteous, mortifying my sin through Christ’s victory over death.
Do I plead with others on Christ’s behalf that they be reconciled to God? Do I care about them enough to plead with them? Is my heart actually broken for my neighbors? My lost family members? The eternal second Person of the Trinity became flesh to be humiliated and die for me. Cannot I simply invite a lost person to a meal, or a movie, or a walk? Cannot I strive to be an ambassador for the sovereign Lord of the universe who wants to bring more sheep into the fold? Why don’t I do it?
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Begin to pray for specific lost people in your life to be saved. I find that the way to have my heart break for them is to pray for them; in that way, I begin to see them as God sees them.
- Research the sorts of things that modern ambassadors do. Can we do those sorts of things in our communities?
- Think of one friend or neighbor or co-worker whom you can invite to a meal or gathering. Now, invite them.