In light of this, maybe we should re-think what our gospel message actually is? Just a thought…
We cannot read the Bible like Jesus never happened. He absolutely changed everything! And because of what God has done in Christ, our relationship to Him has forever changed.
Notice how Paul frames this new reality in the following passage:
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 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. 20 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. (2 Cor.5:14-20 NIV)
I will have to unpack this further at another time, but for now I would like you to notice some summary points:
Christ’s love is what motivates us, not fear of punishment (vs. 14).
When Christ died, ALL died with Him, whether they know it or not (vs. 14).
Love is other-centered, therefore when we receive God’s love we become other-centered (vs. 15).
We no longer define anyone by their current behavior or circumstances. We define them according to Christ (vs. 16).
The human race was forever changed (exchanged) at the cross. We are now a new creation (vs.17); God has put all things in Christ (see Col.1:16-17).
God was IN Christ, reconciling the human race to Himself (vs. 18-19). He did not abandon Jesus on the cross for one moment; He’ll never abandon us either (Heb.13:5b)
To reconcile means “to change, exchange, to restore, make compatible.” Christ put Adam to death (Rom.5:14-15), exchanging our broken Adamic identity with Christ’s identity, thus making us compatible to live in the Godhead in Christ (Eph.2:6; Col.3:3).
God is not counting our sins against us anymore (vs.19).
Ambassadors represent a country or kingdom, a leader or king. We represent Jesus and His Kingdom, which means we should interface with all people exactly like Jesus interfaced with them (v.20).
Our gospel message is delivered by God through our renewed minds and transformed lives; it’s an appeal to accept His reconciliation and live in union with Him in Christ. (vs.20)
One last thing here. I want you to notice what’s not included in this message of reconciliation.
We may struggle with this description of the gospel, partly because the unrenewed part of us hates grace. Without being compelled by love, we will feel compelled to add other requirements.
From God’s point of view we are reconciled, whether one believes it or not. He seems to think all are forgiven, all are reconciled.
From our point of view, we will only benefit from this wonderful reality by being reconciled, living in union with Him as “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet.1:4).
Otherwise, we will stay on the treadmill of religion, separated from God in our minds, trying to save ourselves and attain something He’s already done for us.
So, again I ask, does our gospel message line up with this appeal? And if this isn’t our message, shouldn’t we repent (change our thinking)? Selah.
Here’s a song from Jonathan David & Melissa Helser’s latest album, “Beautiful Surrender” that inspired me to write this post. As you listen to the song, please consider (or reconsider) what our message of reconciliation actually is.
And be blessed. Our message IS good news that bring great joy!