When I think about the mission of the church, lots of Scriptures come to mind. One group I’m particularly fond of is found in 2 Corinthians 5:
2 Corinthians 5:14-20a14 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, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!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 men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.20a We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
I love this section of Scripture.
Paul starts out by saying, “Christ’s love compels us!” In other words, Christ’s love should be the motivating force behind all of our actions. As it says in 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.”
When people realize how much Jesus loves them – how much they’ve been given – they can’t help but give back! Jesus’ love is like a fire that serves as fuel for your spiritual life! Without it, you’re simply out of gas.
Paul understood this, and Jesus’ love, put on display through His sacrifice on the cross, literally drove everything Paul did. He could not stop obsessing over it, and this is why he could take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’!
Paul goes on in v. 16 saying, “From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.” What does this mean?
Notice the word “we” – Paul is writing to the Corinthian church – a group of Christians. He’s saying, “We, as Christians, do not look at people the way the world looks at people. We don’t judge people from outward appearances. We don’t categorize and stereotype. We don’t assign value based on worldly standards. We see people the way Jesus sees them – as souls, priceless and beautiful, created in the image of God.”
The Corinthians especially would have had a tough time with this. Their society was full of elitist snobs, and the snobbery was contagious. Paul’s telling them, “Don’t be a bunch of snobs! Don’t look at people the world looks at them, and don’t treat people the way the world treats them!”Why?
He explains in v. 17 – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” In other words, “You’re not the same old person you used to be; you’re something completely new – something different. You’ve been washed by Christ’s blood, and have been reconciled to God.”
That word, “reconciled,” is one I frequently find myself thinking about. Reconciliation means “to exchange a hostile relationship with a loving one.” When Paul tells the Corinthians they’ve been reconciled, he’s telling them that, through Jesus, they’ve exchanged a hostile relationship for a loving one with God the Father. Reconciliation means they’ve moved from condemnation to salvation, unrighteousness to righteousness, folly to wisdom, darkness to light. Reconciliation equals newness, and it’s a beautiful thing.
But he doesn’t stop there – v. 18-20a says, “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 men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
Herein lies the mission of the church: carrying out Christ’s “ministry of reconciliation” initiated after the Fall by the Father, culminating in His Son’s death, burial, and resurrection.
The entire world is infected with the disease of sin, this disease in 100% terminal, Jesus is the cure, and we, the church continue His ministry. We are called to administer Jesus to a dying world through ourselves as new creations in Christ!
Paul describes us in carrying out our mission as “ambassadors.”
This is a military term used by the Romans to describe a particular type of official serving their government. When the Romans would conquer a territory by pounding it into submission, often the conquered peoples would remain hostile toward their rule for a very long time. A specialist known as an “ambassador” would be sent to govern that territory with the sole purpose of fostering good relations with whomever they represented (in this case the Roman empire).
Paul’s use of the word here would have meant much to the Corinthians as Corinth was a Roman city. Paul was saying, “We are representatives of Christ in a territory that is largely hostile toward Him, but we need to work to fix that. We must introduce people to Jesus, and assist in fostering a good relationship between they and He as an ambassador would.”
And I love this last bit: “as though God were making His appeal through us.”
I’ll be discussing the vision and mission of Lake Merced’s college ministry with the students this evening, and this is one of the passages we’ll look closely at.
Studying this fires me up.
Be a blessing to someone today!