Summary: Be the person Christ died for you to be

Can you spare any change?

A sermon on 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Sue and I are doing a sermon series this month looking at some of the Pauline Epistles that the church has historically associated with the season of Lent. Lent is the season that looks forward to Easter, where we celebrate what the Lord accomplished for us on the cross. This morning we will look at a short passage from the book of 2 Corinthians which speaks to what the Lord has accomplished for us. But we will also think about change, and what we do with these opportunities we’ve been given in Christ.

Sometimes we miss our chances

People neglect their opportunities in life. I received a pastor’s letter in the mail last week. In the 1940s, IBM considered commercializing the new computer operation they had with the US Government. But after due consideration, Thomas J Watson, chairman of IBM, issued this statement, ‘Realistically there is a market for about five computers in the entire world. There is no reason to risk our current success on such a limited venture.’ Or consider, in 1962, Decca Records had controlled the American music market for decades. And in 1962 they sent out talent scouts to review a new band in Liverpool, England. Their talent scouts wrote back to Decca, ‘We really don’t like their sound. And besides, everyone knows that guitar music is on its way out.’ Ten years later Decca went out of business. We don’t always take advantage of the opportunities we have in life. And I would like to talk about that this morning.

Today’s Epistle

If you have your Bibles with you, why don’t you take them out and turn to the fifth chapter of the Book of 2 Corinthians. We’ll be looking at verses sixteen through twenty one. As we jump into the middle of this, at least his third, letter to the church in Corinth, Paul is defending his ministry. And in doing so he sheds a lot of light on what the Christian life is supposed to look like. Jumping in at verse sixteen, we read, ‘So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ [1]

In Christ we gain a new perspective

Our Epistle for the day begins, ‘So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.’ When the Spirit makes His home in us it changes our perspective on life. Paul begins by telling us that he now no longer looks at things from an earthly point of view, that is, from a human perspective. How is that? Well the Bible teaches that when we become Christians there is a New Birth in us. [2] The Spirit comes to makes His home in us and with His aid we begin to view life and understand life from a different angle then before we had Him. [3] And so the measuring line we use on the people around us changes. We have a new standard.

We see Christ in new ways

And this is especially true of the way we look at Christ. We Christians come to see Jesus much differently than does the world around us. Probably most of our neighbors in the Western world look at Jesus as a good and wise man, a teacher, or philosopher, or reformer. They don’t look at Him the same way we do. But they don’t view Jesus harshly. And the religions of the world, the Hindu, the Moslem, the New Age, they basically see Christ as another saint or a prophet. They don’t look at Him the same way we do. But they don’t view Jesus harshly. [4] But now our Modern world has a much more benign view of Jesus than the Roman world did. To the Ancient world Jesus was a dangerous and despicable character. And men like Paul use to actively persecute Christ’s followers. But my point is that those who do not have the Spirit look at Jesus from worldly points of view, from human perspectives. Jesus is a prophet. Jesus is a saint. Jesus is a charlatan. He is a criminal. He is a philosopher. He’s a liberator. He’s a reformer. Those are all worldly ways of looking at Jesus. The Apostle Paul, before he became a Believer, [5] use to look at Jesus from those kinds of perspectives. Paul use to see Jesus as just a man. In fact Paul believed Jesus was a false prophet, a charlatan, a blasphemer. You can see that from the way Paul lived his early life. He worked night and day to wipe out Christ’s followers because Paul thought the guy was a dangerous man. [6] But now all that changed for Paul when he met the Lord. Then Paul has a different view of Jesus. He no longer regards Jesus from any of those worldly angles. Now Paul sees Christ through the eyes of faith and recognizes Him as the Messiah and Christ, Savior and Lord. We see that because now Paul lives for Christ. With a spiritual understanding, with the eyes of faith, Paul has come to see Jesus quite differently.

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