“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 ESV
At the end of chapter 4, Paul said that “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day”
(2 Corinthians 4:16). What is this continuous renewal taking place inside of us? It is sanctification – the Holy Spirit working inside of us to mold us more into the image of Christ every day. Yes, there is renewal that takes place when we become born-again Christians (see John 3). Yes, we are justified (declared righteous) when Jesus saves us by God’s grace. But that doesn’t give us permission to continue in our sin. That would be like going back to our own vomit.
No, the love of Christ should now control us. As our sinful nature died together with Jesus on the cross, we should no more live for ourselves, to please our own desires, but for God and in obedience to His Word and will.
How do you see yourself? Not when you look in the mirror, but when you look into your own heart and thoughts. Do you think, “I’m okay“, “Not doing too bad“, “I know I am sinful, but I can’t do much about it. At least God is gracious. I’ll be okay“? Or do you think, “I am a sinner saved by God and I need His Holy Spirit, counsel and Word every single day“? American Pastor Paul Washer said: “The cross is not a sign of our great worth, but our great depravity. That we were so evil that the only way we could be saved is by God’s son being crushed under the full force of God’s wrath that was due to us.”
Our merciful God, through Jesus Christ, reconciled us to Himself, not counting our trespasses. He made innocent, perfect Jesus to become sin for us, so that we may be declared righteous, but, more than that, that we may become righteous through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
God also entrusted us with His message of reconciliation as ambassadors. With our words and deeds we send a (sometimes unconscious) message to fellow believers and to the outside world. At the heart of reconciliation is God healing our relationship with Him, making us right with Him. How are you being an ambassador of that reconciliation in your closest relationships? How are you being an ambassador of that reconciliation when you are by yourself, when you think no one is watching?
If you feel (like me!) that you haven’t been a great ambassador of God’s love, repent of it at the feet of Jesus and ask for His guidance, wisdom and daily renewal.