2 Corinthians 5:11–6:2
‘We’re Christ’s representatives, God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their defences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now.’
Today I want us to follow Paul’s line of thought in this passage, to allow God’s Spirit to speak to us and bless our hearts and challenge us afresh with our mission in His name.
Paul uses some wonderful language for us and our task, great emotive language of reconciliation and ambassadorial roles. I long to see us fired by the same dream for the communities God has called us to serve so lets get stuck into the scripture - follow if you wish.
2 Corinthians 5: 17
For Paul here the foundation to our status as Christian is that we are new people on the inside because of the work God has done and the commitment we have offered Jesus. For Paul this is about being new creations; John called it being born again. If that miracle has happened to us, whether over period of time a sort of seamless progression, or as a stark conversion experience, we are now new on the inside. If that has never happened to you then you can allow it to take place simply by asking Jesus to come and live within you and committing yourself to follow Him. Share that you have done this with me or a member of the Church family you trust and you are in the family! We all need to be born again, and a chance for you to do that is before you now.
You, we are not reformed or rehabilitated or re-educated. God has worked afresh, He has recreated. Being a new creation is not about us deciding to turn over a new leaf but about us allowing God to plant new life within us, and our co-operation with him in this work of grace.
I wonder have ever allowed God make that change in you, or have been like those who have forever been on a journey of turning over fresh leaves? This message will only apply to you and me once we have accepted Jesus as Lord and begun our journey with Him. So if you have done that lets move.
2 Corinthians 5:18 - 19
Paul sees this new birth as 100% work of God who reconciled us to himself through Christ. Our sins have been blotted out by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection – this is all about God, all about grace. And because of this we are no longer enemies or strangers but sons and daughters of the living God. Alleluia! We could stop there couldn’t we, countless Christians have so why not us?
The reason it is a scandal to stop there is that this is only half the story, the rest of this message is about our task, our responsibility in this Kingdom of grace. God calls us all to be ’committed to us this message of reconciliation’. Our calling is to be God’s hands, feet and mouth on the earth. To bring to those we are called to serve the same grace and love and peace we have found in Christ. In short to be ambassadors - v 20. I can’t help thinking of that awful advert for Ferro Roche!
But seriously an ambassador is an official representative of one country to another, and that is our role. A role we are well placed to fulfill since we are not only members of the Kingdom of God, we used to be members of the Kingdom of this world.
A few years back I had the opportunity to serve as an Ambassador of the British Methodist Church in the USA. I served as an exchange Pastor in a United Methodist Church in Flagler Beach Florida. While we were there as a family we were Ambassadors of our Church back home and indeed the UK in general. I was able to fulfill that role because I am both a Methodist Minister and I am an Englishman. I hope I did a good job of representing our Church and nation there.
This is true for all of us who are new creations in Christ; we once were members of the community around us, now we are citizens in the Kingdom of God. Who better to build bridges than us? For we used to think, act and speak like those in our community.
I wonder though how seriously we take our role? Do we in fact see ourselves as Ambassadors 24 – 7, or do we think that is really the job of the professionals, the Priests, Pastors, and Ministers?
I wonder too what kind of Ambassadorial image we project with our seemingly constant divisions. We argue and squabble amongst ourselves about things that to us seem earth shatteringly important, but in reality to those who are dying without Christ they are irrelevant. I wonder if we are even noticed much of the time by the world we live in. They don’t ignore us, because for the most part they don’t even notice that we are there.
When was the last time the Church was heard in our community? Do we have views on justice and peace? Does our God have something to say about poverty in Sutton Coldfield or the inner city of Birmingham? Do we believe that God is interested in lack of opportunities for young people or fear old folk have?
Yes, yes yes! Then why are we so silent?
So many see us an irrelevance because we never seem to connect the gospel to reality. As Ambassadors we need to be building bridges urgently with this community – with your friends. A challenge exists today for all of us - as talented and gifted as we are – to actually be the people God as called us to be.
So in conclusion, Christ has reconciled us to God in such an amazing way - our sins blotted out and we daughters and sons of the living God - Alleluia!
He has destroyed the barrier that existed between us, AND we are called to do no less. To break down the barriers that separate and be reconciliation to our communities.
He has broken every barrier down - let us do likewise. Let us be Ambassadors for Jesus so that God can make His appeal to Sutton Coldfield through us.