16 So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. 17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!
18 All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.
20 So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” 21 God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God.
The introduction to 2 Corinthians in my study bible provides a real, slice of life, picture of Paul and the believers in Corinth. Twenty years after Jesus’ crucifixion Paul arrived in Corinth and preached the gospel with apparent power for about 18 months. The members of this newly formed congregation were mostly poor Gentiles. There was no middle class as we know it. There were some Jewish people who had strong ties to the church including Aquila, Apollos, and Prisca.
By the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians it is believed that he had known the believers for more than 3 years. 1 Corinthians is a story of Paul (attempting to persuade or dissuade), asking the Corinthians to change their behavior and their thinking such as boastfulness and thoughtlessness; characteristics that caused division. In the letter we see Paul, the father figure, responsible for his children in the faith, calling the Corinthian believers to live faith more fully and wholesomely. In 2 Corinthians the small cracks in the unity of the community seen in 1 Corinthians have widened into fissures and animosity is now directed at Paul.
With the above background our scripture finds the flow of thought shifting to the message at the heart of the letter, the appeal for full reconciliation. By reconciling with Paul the Corinthians will be reconciling themselves with Christ and God. Put another way Paul sees his function as mediator of reconciliation between God and estranged people because of the grace of Jesus.
5:20 An ambassador is an officially designated representative of a specific entity authorized to speak to others. We are called to speak faithfully for the one who sent us. Scripture declares that God wants “everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). He desires that all people would hear and understand the gospel so that they may have the opportunity to believe for eternal life. Remarkably, he makes his appeal through us.
by Clarence Beverage
For Pondering & Prayer
Did you ever think of reconciliation as a necessary component of showing God’s love for others? I honestly have not. But, when I think about it, if you cannot reunite or become friendly again you really cannot do anything with that person or others with whom they are associated.
Prayer: Lord, Thank you for touching our hearts and minds so that we are inclined to hear your word and through that process find ourselves thankful for your holy presence. May your Spirit bring us insight and gifts beyond our limited imaginations. Amen.