Reconciled

This week, we’re going to gain understanding and be challenged to fulfill the calling that we all have into the evangelistic ministry of reconciliation.  OK, it seems just like a lot of big words that don’t really sound all that exciting…  However, we’re going to find this morning just how easy to understand this ministry is and how much fun this task that we’ve been called to really is.  Now that we’ve been reconciled to God, He is calling us to encourage others to do the same.
No one likes to be the deliverer or the recipient of bad news.  For example, can you imagine having to be the one responsible for showing up at someone’s door to inform them that their house is being foreclosed?
However, it’s a great joy and pleasure to be the deliverer and the recipient of good news.  For example, can you imagine showing up to someone’s house to inform them that their house is being foreclosed, but also that someone paid off that debt in full for them?
That’s exactly what we have been tasked to do!
To evangelize (Greek word euaggelizō) simply means to bring good news to someone.
To minister (Greek word diakonos or leitourgeō) simply means to serve someone.
To reconcile (Greek word katallassō) simply means to make an adjustment of differences or returning to favor.
So, the evangelistic ministry of reconciliation is simply serving others by bringing them the good news that the debt that they owe to God for their sins has been paid in full and that they have the opportunity to receive God’s favor!  It’s a ministry that all believers are called to and one that is incredible fulfilling and fun to do.  In fact, there are countless ways to perform this ministry.
To start, let’s first take a look at our calling into this ministry in 2 Corinthians 4.  As we pickup in the middle of this second letter from Paul to the Corinthian church, we’ll first get a reality check of our current circumstances in life – just how temporary these lives and bodies are and what their purpose is.
2 Corinthians 4:16-17
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Now, I would like to pause here and dig a little deeper into a few details of what Paul is referring to here.  Please turn ahead for a moment to chapter 11 as we find Paul boasting a bit in regard to these light and momentary troubles that He has taken on for eternal glory.  It truly puts our priorities, “sacrifices, and troubles” in perspective!
2 Corinthians 11:23b-28
23b I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
To any of us here today, these are not what we consider to be light and momentary troubles, however, when we receive a proper perspective of the eternal glory awaiting us, they are exactly that!
2 Corinthians 4:18
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 5
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

So here, we see the reality of where we are at.  We’re living here in these temporary tents of bodies longing for our eternal dwelling.  We often suffer and endure troubles in this body and life, but we still keep moving forward not focusing on the temporary things that will quickly pass away, but keeping our focus and priority on God’s eternal kingdom knowing that we will be judged by Christ, not only for our eternity in Heaven or Hell, but also to receive the dues for the good or bad that we did in this temporary life.  What, then should our lives look like and what have we been called to do?  Let’s take a look!
The Ministry of Reconciliation

11a Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.

Once we know of our reality, our hearts should have an overwhelming sense of compassion toward those who have not yet taken their eyes off of the temporary to see the eternal.  Out of this compassion, we are compelled to persuade others and open their eyes to this reality.  Life is temporary and at the end, comes the judgment.  Let us run to His salvation, mercy, and grace while we still can.  This temporary life has more of an impact on our eternal life and the lives around us than we have a tendency to keep in mind!
11b What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
We don’t try to pretend that we’re something that we are not.  We’re honest about our struggles and our dependence on God.  We don’t act self-righteous because our righteousness is merely filthy rags to the Lord.  We are only righteous because He did the work to forgive us and bring us into this right standing before Him.  We don’t look down in judgment because we, ourselves, are just as deserving of God’s wrath, but live instead in God’s mercy and grace.  We forgive others as He has forgiven us and love our enemies even as He did.
12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 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.
To many, it would seem that we are out of our minds.  Why do we sacrifice so much and refuse to live for ourselves as so many do?  Why don’t we chase after pleasures and build up for ourselves all of the things that this world has to offer?  Why do we instead give generously and sacrificially from what we have?  Why do we bless those who curse us?  Why are our lives so different?  Christ’s love compels us.  We’re convinced that one died for all so that these lives are no longer lived for us, but for Christ; after all, He first gave up His life for us.

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!

We now look at this world and especially others from a different perspective.  We are a new creation with a new mindset, a new eternal perspective.  We are enabled to view others as God does.  We are equipped and empowered to love others with an unconditional love and forgive them with unconditional forgiveness.  We no longer live our lives based on assumptions and deceit, but on God’s very own truth and view everything through it.  It’s a wondrous and glorious new life of freedom and power!
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. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
That’s it!  With our new life and new perspective, we are given the ministry of reconciliation.  We get to share the good news with everyone that God is no longer counting their sins against them, but forgiving them.  The one who was sinless took on the punishment of our sin so that we can come into right standing before God.  We have been reconciled!  The debt that our sin built up keeping us separated from God has been paid in full!
We now have the understanding of what this ministry of reconciliation is and how we have all been called to it.  Next week, we’re going to dig into the fun stuff and take a look at some of the ways in which we can fulfill this task and be used of God to transform the lives of those He’s calling us to!