The Gospel and the Bible are so challenging… yet so simple. It is truly incredible that short or common passages constantly speak the same Truths throughout centuries… to you, me, and others in different ways.
In a recent small group we were led to explore and pray through the following passages. We only had ~15 minutes to pray and journal, but I feel God really illuminated scripture to me and impressed his Truth, love, and sacrifice on my heart in that short period of time.
2 Corinthians 5:17-20
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 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. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Even though the beautiful message of the Gospel and Christ’s saving grace is confrontational (repentance and turning away from sin are required (sin is central to the majesty of Christ’s sacrifice and redemption of humanity)… Christians have the best message in the universe to share with non-believers. It is a wonderful message filled with grace, hope, and promise. Christ creates us anew according to His purity.
Scripture says that “in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them”. In Christ, God gives undeserved mercy and unearned favor… pure grace. Even if the Good News involves the “sting” of repentance, what an awesome message!
Why are we so scared of sharing it? Why in the world are we more scared of what people think of us than sharing the Gospel as if other people’s eternity DID NOT depend on belief in Him?
God, please give me courage and the words to share with others. Please bring people to me to share with or lean on me as I venture throughout my day. Please grow your purpose in me. Help me get over my fears and comforts. I desire to be more closely committed to you. Please continue transforming me into Christ-likeness. Please grow the Holy Spirit’s presence in my mind, heart, and actions.
This passage also refers to how Christians represent Christ. We are “AMBASSADORS” for Christ. Ambassadors are foreign to where they are placed. Ambassadors represent / promote their homelands for the purpose of building relationships. That is the message of the Great Commission and how the world is transformed in the knowledge of Christ. The God of the Universe wants to use you and me for His purposes… isn’t that wild?
God has entrusted the Gospel and the Great Commission to US through the working power of the Holy Spirit. What a responsibility! The message started with the disciples and has been multiplying ever since. Imagine what would happen if one generation neglected sharing the Gospel?
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
That makes me think of how Jesus intentionally lived in community with the disciples. Therefore, through His life and in His community, there would be plenty of witnesses if Christ was did not live up to His testimony… however, he always did. Most of the disciples died as martyrs because they refused to renounce the truths they witnessed. In Christ’s “private life” he maintained his obedience to God the Father’s will. God’s will is/was to reconcile humanity to Him.
Christ was pure in His thoughts and His private life; our private lives are the best indicators of our integrity. We can fool others… it is difficult to [but possible?] to fool ourselves… but it is impossible to fool God. Again, this just points to how awesome Christ was and is.
The passage above also charges Christians to grow into “Christian adulthood” in our knowledge, faith, and the grace of Christ and Scripture. It says… GROW UP, and DON’T BE A SPIRITUAL BABY! Go. Do. Learn. Live. Surrender. Worship.
God has given us EVERYTHING we could possibly need to be successful for the mission of glorifying him in the nations:
- A clear purpose a calling / mission = Christlikeness and the Great Commission
- Unapologetic and objective truth = the Bible
- Complete grace & forgiveness
- Christ (God in a flesh suit) as an EXAMPLE and as complete ATONEMENT for all sin
- Prayer for talking and working things out, focusing on Him, and transforming our thoughts… the God of the universe deeply cares about your and my petty thoughts, desires, pains, joys, dreams, and hearts!
- The Holy Spirit to both convict and empower us for every good work
- The Church as an organizational structure with pooled resources and as community companions
All of the above provide a firm and strong foundation for the following precious truths about worshiping God, God’s purpose, and the Great Commission:
- God has told us EXACTLY what to do = glorify Him and preach the Good News
- How to do it = with faith, love, and grace
- Where to do it = in our communities and all the nations
- Who to do it with = in community with other believers and the Church
- What / who to watch out for = the enemy and his pitiful servants… and their attempts to separate us from God, Christ, Scripture and each other
- How to combat the enemy with weapons = prayer through and by calling on the spilled blood of Christ)… in a war that is already won through Christ’s sacrifice!!!!
What keeps YOU and ME from surrendering ourselves to God?
It’s not about managing our behavior, focusing on ourselves, or concentrating our wills… it’s simply about worshiping God. As we worship Him, we are transformed, the Bible and Holy Spirit come alive and everything above is somehow realized in our lives and relationships. What an awakening… What freedom and transcendent joy.