Summary: Four motivations for ministry - the fear of the Lord, the love of Christ, God’s commission, and the urgency of today
The Ministry of Reconciliation
A missionary conference is always a good time to ask ourselves why? We are involved throughout the year in many activities, many of them evangelistic and the routine of doing them can sometimes become so routine that we forget why we are doing them.
That can be even more true of so-called ‘full-time workers’ so it is a very healthy exercise to ask ourselves from time to time ‘why am I doing this?’ And if we want a clue to help us get back on track who better than the apostle Paul to explain his motivation for ministry. In one of his most personal and passionate letters - 2 Corinthians - he opens his heart to his readers and I trust this will help us as we seek to serve the Lord.
Read the passage.
There are bound to be more reasons that you can find in this passage, but I offer 4 reasons or motivations here.
The fear of the Lord (v.11)
The love of Christ (v.14)
God’s commission (v.19)
The urgency of today (6:2)
1.The fear of the Lord
Paul says in v.11, ‘Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.’ This follows on in the context from the previous verse where Paul has been telling the Corinthians that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. By any standards, when we pause to think about it, this is a sobering thought, that there will be a reckoning of how we have used the lives God has given us. And fear, in the sense of reverence and awe is an appropriate response to that knowledge.
Therefore, in the light of that, Paul is trying to persuade people who doubted his credentials as an apostle that it is precisely because he fears the Lord that he seeks to maintain his integrity.
The word ‘know’ here has to do with who God is, and especially our experience of Him and our appreciation of Him. It’s not about knowing facts as in a game of Trivia, rather as in knowing and experiencing a relationship with a person. If we don’t know what it is to fear the Lord then we won’t be wanting to persuade anybody of anything to do with the Lord.
So our first motivation comes from knowledge and relationship. With God.
2.The love of Christ
This aspect also has much to do with our experience of the love of Christ. And its not primarily to do with our emotions by way of response to what Christ has done on the cross for us. Yes of course there will be emotion, but beyond that emotion, when it really hits us, we get plenty of reasons to motivate us to serve God.
Our new state before a holy God: life, instead of death without hope; the fact that in God’s eyes we are new creatures (v.17), acceptable to Him; we have forgiveness instead of condemnation; all produced as a result of the amazing love of Christ.
A deep appreciation of the love of God in Christ for us is a powerful motivation for getting stuck into ministry. We should really spend more time just thinking about it and allowing it to sink in to our hearts and lives. (Romans 5:6,8 and Luke 7:47) If we really sense the amazing love of God for rebellious offenders like us, the only credible response is to tell others about it. That’s the compulsion of the love of Christ (v.14).
So this love is not wishy-washy - it gives us a compulsion and a conviction . A compulsion to tell and a conviction about certain things, that if one person died for all, the response of all those people is to stop living for themselves and live instead for Jesus Christ. That’s a powerful conviction.
We already know that we are not apostles like Paul. What that doesn’t give us is an excuse for inactivity as if we were passengers aboard a cruise liner in the middle of the Mediterranean. God has given each believer a responsibility.
So this motivation has more to do with the needs of the other person than with our own personal or private experience of God or the love of Christ. We recognize that people who have not experienced the fear of God or love of Christ are missing out, in effect they are enemies of God - no wonder there is a barrier between them or they feel God is distant. So the word that Paul uses here is that of reconciliation.
As we look around the world, we see that there are problems of reconciliation everywhere - Israel and Palestine, in Northern Ireland, including between neighbours in our own towns and cities.