Ambassadors for Christ
2 Corinthians 5:11-21 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. 12 We are not again commending ourselves to you but are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you will have an answer for those who take pride in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 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.
16 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. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 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.
20 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. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says: By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. The grace of God, given to us as a gift, does not mean, as some have made it, that what we do does not matter. Verse 10 says: We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. We are not saved by our own good works, but because we are saved, we should walk in the good works God prepared for us and by grace. In today’s text it says: 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. Is it Christ’s love for us or our love of Him that controls us? In truth, they are one in the same. 1 John 4:19 says: We love, because He first loved us. Our love for God and Jesus is in response to their love for us. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Our love then is a response to the cross and our response to the cross is what should control us. Verse 17, in today’s text says: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. How can we respond to the cross, to the love of God and not be changed? To walk in the grace of God, we must walk as new creatures.
In John 3:3, Jesus says: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." The analogy of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly is often used to illustrate the new birth or the new creation we become through Christ. There is truth to the fact that we are changed completely, in an instant. We also though need to recognize that being reborn as a new creation means that we still will need to grow up to become what we are called to be. In that respect our transformation might better be compared to the changes that we see as a tadpole grows into a frog. It is a slow, gradual process of change. Day to day the changes are often not even discernible. Yet over the course of time we become something completely different than what we were and we can fulfill all that was intended from the beginning. The text says: 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. We cannot continue in sin and be in Christ. Jesus died so that our sins would be forgiven and not counted against us. How can we reconcile a thought that grace would allow us to choose to continue in sin if our love controls us? To be reconciled to God and Christ is to be recreated into something other than what we were. What we are recreated to be is what God intended from the beginning, that we would be created in the image and likeness of God. In Genesis 1:26-28 it says: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Both Jesus Christ the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, were present with God at creation. When God said in “our image and likeness,” it is in the image and likeness of the Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit. To be reconciled to God is to be restored to what He intended that we would be. It is that we would walk in the good works He prepared for us, that we would have dominion over all the earth and that we would take part in the reconciling of the world to Him.
The text says: 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. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. We need to recognize what it is and what it means to be an ambassador so that we can be one. An ambassador is one who is from a foreign kingdom, who lives among people of a different kingdom. An ambassador does not hide who his allegiance is to or who he represents. An ambassador proudly and openly represents the king and the kingdom that sent him. We are called to be like that to the world. We should proudly represent the kingdom of heaven here on earth. We are called to be ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven, proudly and boldly representing the King who sent us. We are not to be secret agents who blend in with, look like and act like the citizens of the world. We are to be and walk in the righteousness of God. Our ambassadorship, our new birth and recreation happens in an instant and it continues throughout our lives. As we are reconciled to God, we can see His glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says: But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. That is the glorious image we are to demonstrate to the world.
For the love of Christ controls us. May my life be in response to the demonstration of Your love and display Your glory and righteousness. Amen.