YOUR RECONCILIATION MINISTRY
When I got saved in a Teen Challenge Christian rehabilitation center, they asked me to share my testimony in a church service. When I was writing my story, I was encouraged to include a favorite Scripture. I chose one of my favorite passages: 2 Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
I can only imagine how many times I have quoted these words from Paul over the years. And seventeen years later, this verse has not lost its ability to fill me with awe at the work of God in my life. These are more than just poetic words; they describe the reality that I stepped into when I came to Christ. In my life, salvation was a night-and-day experience. I found a brand- new life in Jesus that I never could have imagined could be possible.
I suppose most Christians can quote this verse from memory. It is one of those bedrock Scriptures that we all learn early on in our walk with Christ. But Paul did not simply write a catchy saying for us to memorize. He was writing a spiritual truth that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him. And there was more to the revelation than that verse itself. Paul’s original letter did not contain chapters and verses like our modern Bibles. So, it is important that we do not divorce this verse from the context into which it was originally written.
The context following this verse makes a very clear statement. Paul continues,
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 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.” (vs. 18-19)
I would venture to guess that these verses are not committed to memory near as much as verse 17. But that does not make them any less important. Verse 17 talks about the Lord’s work of salvation. Verses 18 and 19 speak of our responsibility as recipients of this great work of grace. I think that explains why we like to gloss over them and concentrate only on the new creation portion.
You might be wondering, “What does this have to do with evangeLIVING?” Well…everything. Here in these verses, Paul explains something so profound about our purpose as believers on the earth. If the only thing that God wanted to do with us is save us, then we would be automatically brought to Heaven when we were born again. He took Enoch and Elijah in this way (Genesis 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11). But the reason He leaves us here is because He has given us work to do. And that work is called a ministry of reconciliation.
It is important to note that Paul addressed this letter, “To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia.” Notice that Paul did not say, “To the evangelists in Corinth,” or “To the people in the church who have a gift of evangelism.” Paul was addressing these principles to the church. And he includes all of us who have received the new life that Christ offers when he says, “He has committed to us a ministry of reconciliation.” (emphasis mine)
Sometimes Christians try to excuse themselves from sharing their faith under the guise of, “I’m not called to do that.” I simply do not find that supported in the Bible. Sure, maybe you are not called to take teams out on the street or preach the Gospel to thousands at a crusade. But you are called to be an agent of reconciliation to those in your sphere of influence. The question is not, “Do I have a ministry of reconciliation?” If you are born again and have experienced the new creation that Paul talks about, you have this kind of ministry. You might not have asked for it. You might not have engaged with it. But it was a package deal along with salvation. Essentially, God tells us, “You are now a new creation, and because of that, you have a responsibility.”You are called to be an agent of reconciliation to those in your sphere of influence. Click To Tweet
Paul goes on to write, “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.” (20)
Paul calls us ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador for the United States is a person who represents the desires and interests of our President in an official capacity to foreign nations. An ambassador is not supposed to be representing their own agenda, but the agenda that has the best interest of the President as a priority.
Paul uses this same term to represent all believers. In our case, we do not represent a political leader, but God Himself. And we are supposed to be messengers to the world, expressing His desires and interests. And the Bible is clear about one of His biggest agendas:
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV)
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
If this is God’s mission, it becomes our mission as His ambassadors on the earth. This is what Paul is addressing. The Lord wants the world reconciled to Him. We can play an active part in that ministry as we share our faith with those around us and tell people what He did in order to welcome them into His family for eternity.
So, the question we each need to ask ourselves is, “How is my ministry of reconciliation?” If I were rating my effectiveness as a believer solely on this reconciliation ministry that I have been entrusted with, how would I rate? If you see a lack in your life, it is time to go out and engage your reconciliation ministry!