Summary: We are new creations, we are called to live that way, we are to be representatives of God himself, how?
I tend to be a closet grumbler, I grumbled this morning when I saw someone had smashed the sign out the front of the hall.
I went on the internet and saw something that put my grumbling in perspective, 17 Christian people in Nigeria killed by radicals of a different religion, The Coptic Christian Pope of Egypt calling for unity and calm in his country a country where his church members are persecuted.
I then thought about how the ‘Back to Jerusalem’ a Christian movement in China are looking at supporting fellow believers who are being persecuted in Southern Sudan. These people are being persecuted themselves but are willing to serve their fellow believers overseas.
Paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Driven by the awe of God,
We try to show others how to understand him that way,
For who we are is seen by God,
What we are, should be plain to all,
Do you understand who you are?
Who you are, is not your outside appearance,
But what you are is what is in your heart!
Does that seem crazy to you?
If so, God says it is true,
Take it up with Him,
If it seems to you to be right,
We are driven by Jesus love,
Because of the conviction we have that he is the Christ, the one,
That he died for all!
He died for all so that they may be free,
Free to live, free from themselves,
That is why Jesus died,
Conquering death he lived again!
Because of this,
We regard no one from a worldly point of view,
We did once, but having been made new,
We no longer do!
We are new in Christ,
We are new creations,
So it is for anyone who will be made new, through the Christ!
This is not for just a few!
Made new – a new creation,
Old is gone, there is only new.
This is from God,
Through Christ Jesus we come to God,
Clean and new,
Through Christ Jesus the world,
Is made clean and new.
A man’s sins no longer count,
The message is about clean and new,
The debt is settled,
Now we are free and it’s time to tell others!
Christ Jesus calls,
He calls us to be his ambassadors,
To speak for God, to be his representatives!
To telling them,
“Be settled with God!
That debt is settled,
So be settled with God!”
Christ Jesus has paid that price,
Being in my place, your place,
He brought my freedom,
He brought your freedom,
Be reconciled to Him!
That you might be right with God,
No longer like you were,
But like Jesus Himself!
[A. W. Moffatt: paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 5:11-21]
Last week I spoke about being “born again” and that in Christ and by the Holy Spirit we are born again, I read from John’s gospel chapter three where we had a description of a meeting between Jesus and a member if the Jewish ruling council by the name of Nicodemus. The result of the meeting was that Jesus told Nicodemus that a person must be “born again” to see the kingdom of God.
This week I have started with a paraphrase of the Apostle Paul’s message about how in Christ a person is a new creation. To quote him “the old is gone, the new has come!”
Now let me be straight up with you, that passage of scripture challenges me!
There is something about this passage that also invigorates me, as it challenges me, you see Paul had been part of the world he was a sinful man through and through before Jesus appeared to him.
Paul was a strictly legalistic, religious, sectarian, tow the line, do it by the party rules kind of a bloke, even to the stage where he condoned the murder of Stephen, the first of countless Christian martyrs. He did all this thinking he was doing it on God’s behalf. But reality was he did it on behalf of a human institution and he realised this himself when he really encountered God!
Encountered God: Once he had encountered God Paul had an awesome fear of God, he knew what God could do – he had been blinded by the light of God, he had been healed of his blindness both physically and spiritually, knowing who God was, having had God’s power revealed to him. Having been reconciled to God through Jesus, Paul set about revealing who God is to others, what does that word reconciled mean, it means going from a place of tension or hostility with a person to becoming friends with that person. (Repeat) Paul became God’s friend.
Not only did Paul reveal God to people but he understood why he was doing it, there was no holding this man back, he had encountered the Christ, and he knew that Jesus had died for the sins of all men, he knew that Jesus had died and was raised from the dead so that all men might be set free from their sins, that all people could also have a non-hostile relationship with God that they could actually be God’s friends. Paul also now knew that he was Jesus representative, that’s what he meant by saying, “we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us”.