In Part 1 of A Church Set Apart, we learned that what makes us unique, as children of God, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We unpacked that in Part 2 by looking at the message and ministry of reconciliation. Today, we’ll wrap it all up by examining The Great Commission and by understanding what Jesus expects of his Church.
We see in 2 Corinthians 5:14-20 that the Apostle Paul is restating our Lord’s commission from Matthew 28:18-20 in which Jesus both commissioned and committed us to the ministry and the word of reconciliation. Let’s take a look:
“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
What does it mean that Jesus has commissioned and committed us to the ministry of reconciliation? He has entrusted to us his message and he has ordered us to deliver it. From the verses above, we see that God is making an appeal to the world through us—we are his ambassadors.
This is powerful, it is no ordinary appeal and it may be a challenging idea to some. Notice how Paul wrote that they, as ambassadors on God’s behalf, were begging. Now, who gets credit when something is done on behalf of someone else? Not the person doing the act but the person on whose behalf the act is done. That person [Jesus] is the one who gets the praise and is the one who holds the power behind the task—the real energy who carries out the mission.
Here is the part which may be difficult for us to accept: Christ is begging, Christ is pleading with his world to be reconciled to his Father. You may say, “Absolutely not, Nathan. God never begs.” If that is your understanding, then you have no idea the extent to which our Father and his Son will go.
This may take some of you off guard and make you uncomfortable, but it remains entirely in line with God’s loving character. Think about it this way: this is the God who became incarnate. This is the God who condescended to humanity, who considered equality with Himself something not to be grasped. This is the God who humbled Himself, coming in the form of man.
Why? Because he is begging us.If you don't think God would beg us to reconciliation then you have no idea the extent to which our Father and his Son will go. #biblestudy Click To Tweet
Parallels from Scripture
This is the Father who runs off the porch for his prodigal. This is the Master who sends out invitations to the highways and the byways simply to ensure that his wedding banquet is full. This is the God we are talking about.
The Gospel is a message that declares God’s great love and mercy. It shows that He Himself is begging all who will believe and humble themselves to repent and trust in Him. This is God pleading with sinners, saying, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”
Church, this is what sets us apart. We have been entrusted with the only true Good News. This news says that even if you find no charity in this world, God is charitable to his own. This news says that even if you cannot find justice in this life, God is just, and the Justifier of those who walk by faith. This Gospel says that even if you don’t experience healing this side of Heaven, God is your Healer and it will not be long.This news says that even if you cannot find justice in this life, God is just, and the Justifier of those who walk by faith. #biblestudy Click To Tweet
Trust Him. Hold fast. Stand firm. Let’s keep leading the way in charity. Let’s lead the way in love. Let’s lead the way in selflessness. Let’s lead the way in bringing about justice. But, none of this matters eternally if we do not lead the way in the message of reconciliation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ that He has commanded us to always have on our lips.
We are presently in an escalating pandemic and I can’t overstate the seriousness of what’s going on. We are facing issues that arise once in a century. Countless people are weary and heavy laden and there’s one thing that that can give them peace. Yes, let’s help them with their finances, food, health, safety, and childcare. But please, as Paul says to Timothy:
Why? Because, in its right context, we have not been given a spirit of fear, but one of power and love and discipline with which we can open our mouths to preach and to proclaim the Gospel of Reconciliation—peace to a world that is lost and dying.
If in these moments we do not proclaim the name of Jesus, we have missed the most important opportunity that we have before us. Charity and justice and mercy mean nothing without Jesus. So as you go, and as you do, and as you obey what we are clearly commanded to do, don’t be afraid. Open your mouth and tell people the simple truth that you have been given a message of reconciliation. Let the world know that the God of the universe, through his son Jesus Christ, is reconciling them to himself. Tell them that he is not counting anybody’s sins against them, but that they must repent, believe, and follow after him. Let them know that in living this life, nothing we face will shake us or move us away from a place of peace.If in these moments we do not proclaim the name of Jesus, we have missed the most important opportunity that we have before us. Click To Tweet
Has this idea of God begging the world challenged you? How are you reaching out during this time to proclaim the message of reconciliation? Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this further.