Summary: We are compelled to take the gospel to the world, for we are God’s fellow workers
2 Cor 5:11 - 6:2
40 Days of Purpose - Evangelism
Dead Poets Society is, I think, one of the best films of all time. In his first lesson with his senior class, the rather eccentric but very inspiring English teacher John Keating, played by Robin Williams, takes the boys into the foyer outside the classroom where he asks one lad by the name of Pitts (a rather unfortunate name, Keating muses) to read out a poem. In an uncertain voice, Pitts reads,
"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old time is still a-flying
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying."
’Carpe deum’, Keating says to them, ’Seize the day’. Every single one of us is just food for worms. You may be destined for great things, but you need to take the opportunity now. Then he leads his class up to the cabinet on the side of the foyer, filed with old, black and white photos of old boys . What do all these boys, your illustrious predecessors, have in common? asks Keating. They’re all fertilising daffodils. They’re all dead. They were boys with high expectations, high ideals, just like you. They felt they were invincible, thought that the world was their oyster, just like you. But did they manage to fulfil even a tiny bit of their potential? Keating gathers his charges close around the cabinet, telling them to listen to the legacy the old boys have for them. He whispers from behind them, imitating the ghosts of the past. "Carpe deum. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."
This teacher, while he might have been inspiring, while he might have been funny, had all his priorities out of order. He thought that success in this life was the most important thing to pursue. He thought that everything ended when we all became "food for worms", when we all began a new job as daffodil fertilisers. Yet, despite his problems, one part of John Keating’s message echoes the thoughts of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6. Seize the day, says Keating, make your lives extraordinary. Seize the day, says Paul, be reconciled to God.
Be reconciled to God. Reconciliation simply means being brought back into relationship, brought back into friendship. Because, brothers and sisters, by nature we are enemies of God. We ignore him and disobey him. And yet God still loves us.
A very famous verse in Romans 5 says this: God demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. It goes on in verse 10, For if, when we were God’s enemies we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life.
While we were still God’s enemies, ignoring him and rejecting his rightful lordship over us, he sent Christ to reconcile us to himself.
And 2 Corinthians 5 explains exactly how this works. You see, this reconciliation didn’t require God to say, oh I’ll forget about all the bad stuff, come and be my friend. It requires the problem in the relationship to be finally and absolutely dealt with. That problem is our sin. God just can’t accept us when we are black with sin. We have to be pure white, clean, otherwise we will stain God’s presence with a big, ugly black smear - a stain that God won’t and can’t put up with. He reconciles the world to himself by not counting this sin against people - have a look at vs. 19: "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them." But he doesn’t just forget, or pretend they’re not there. vs. 21 says that "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God." Just as the consequences of sin is death, separation of God, being the righteousness of God means that we are clean and can approach God’s throne with confidence. We can be friends with God. Jesus became sin for us by bearing those consequences in our place. He became God’s enemy, so that we could be God’s friend. In his anguished cry of "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" from Mark 14:34, he was cut off from his father’s presence, the unity of the Trinity severed in a tragedy beyond human understanding, so that we could be at peace with God. He became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God. That’s the message we’ve received, that’s the reconciliation we’ve enjoyed if we know Jesus – and that’s the message we need to be proclaiming as we’ll see.
Over the past few weeks we have been looking at the purpose of our lives. And we’ve discovered that we have been made by God to be loved by Him, to be in relationship with him, and to serve him. And the final purpose that we’re going to look at this week is the same purpose that Paul took on two thousand years ago when God called him to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Rick Warren calls it our mission. The word we often use is evangelism. And in 2 Cor 5, Paul talks about it as being an ambassador for Christ, being someone who is so desperate to see a broken, sinful world saved, that they plead with those they meet – be reconciled to God!