Summary: The once-and-forever experience of true conversion, and the on-going necessity of being sanctified.
BE YE RECONCILED TO GOD
As an ambassador for Christ, Paul was pleading with the Corinthians - on behalf of Christ - that they go on being reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
We may feel that this is unnecessary: if we are ‘called out ones’ (church), and ‘set apart ones’ (saints) (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:1) - then are we not already reconciled with God?
Such a boast betrays a failure to recognise that, along with the once-and-forever experience of a true conversion to God-in-Christ, there continues to be the on-going necessity of being sanctified. Have we not, at times, failed God, and found it incumbent upon ourselves to repent, and to ‘recommit’ ourselves to God? Paul goes so far as to warn the Corinthians of the possibility that they might have “received the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1).
Without being too morbid or introspective, it is necessary from time to time to give ourselves a spiritual health-check. Even in all the busyness of the Christian life and walk, are we really fully-committed to the relationship at the heart of our lives: being reconciled to God? Or does our Christian life need a shot-in-the-arm to engender a new enthusiasm?
I am not advocating a new experience, but rather a getting-back-to-the-basics of our Christian life. Time to read, and to reflect; to meditate, and to pray; and to stop, and to listen to God. We may not be able to ‘go on retreat’, but it is surely to our advantage to ‘make time’ for God - who has, after all, done so much for us.
What has He done? Well, “God caused Christ, who knew no sin, to become sin for us; in order that in Christ we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). If we are going-on being-reconciled, then it stands to reason that we must be going-on-being-made-righteous. Quick pulse check: how does that show in my life?
In his earlier letter, Paul had spoken of himself and others as ‘God’s fellow-workers’ (1 Corinthians 3:9). The word for “fellow-workers” gives us our English word, ‘synergy’, which speaks of a combined effort, a co-operation with God if you will. It is not that God lacks anything: He could create, train and grow Christians all on His own. But what a privilege for ministers to be involved in the formation of His creation, the nurturing of His ‘babes-in-Christ’ (if they will allow themselves to be nurtured and ‘trained up’ in the ways of the Lord).
In this later letter, Paul again employs the ‘synergy’ word (2 Corinthians 6:1), indicating that he and others are workers-together, presumably with God, and perhaps even with the Corinthians (and ourselves?) if they (we?) will just get on board with the programme?
Paul quotes Isaiah 49:8 where, in an accepted time, a season of grace, a day of salvation, Jesus is given as a covenant to the people of Israel; and faithful preachers are sent from Israel to restore the earth, so that the meek may inherit it.
Whatever God may have done in our past, the word remains: “behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).