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Be Reconciled to God!

31 March • The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Sunday


2 Corinthians 5:14—6:2

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.


16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.


6:1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,


“In a favorable time I listened to you,

and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”


Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.


Meditation

 

I read about Bill Bray, a miner from Cornwall. He was trouble incarnate. An alcoholic, he fought at home and on the streets. He was an unstoppable warring machine. Then, at 29, Jesus gatecrashed Bill’s messed up life. Bill went home and promised his wife: “You will never see me drunk again, by the help of the Lord.” By God’s grace, she never did. Bill’s voice, looks and life changed completely. He was a new creation! He became a preacher. Huge crowds of miners were converted through Bill’s changed life in the 1800s.


Bill’s life was a small mirror of Apostle Paul’s own life. Both men experienced the newness of life that is truly possible only when “the love of Christ controls us” (5:14). They exemplified the beauty of a “new creation” (5:17), only possible if we put simple faith and trust our life completely on Jesus. At the very heart of Christianity is God’s loving reconciliation of former sinners who previously rejected Him stubbornly, but now humbly obey Him.


When are we going to realise that God has moved towards each of us—not in rightful wrath and deserved judgement—but in undeserved mercy and grace to reconcile us to Himself? Left to ourselves, we cannot save ourselves from ourselves—be they escapist addictions such as Bill’s alcoholism or Paul’s religious zeal—and be reconciled to God. Jesus, as God’s cosmic and eternal reconciler, puts us on final notice: God demands that we give up on all our efforts of self-redemption. Have you surrendered all efforts of saving yourself?


That is not all. We are now not just passive recipients, but active channels of the message and ministry of God’s reconciliation in Christ of “not counting their trespasses against us” (5:19). Paul says we are ambassadors for Christ. Paul the former persecutor of the church was transformed into the greatest proclaimer of Christ. Yet we must be warned. Our ministry of gospel reconciliation is most often discharged in our painful circumstances of alienation. Paul was experiencing increasing alienation as the founding pastor with his church! His opponents—who subtly influenced his beloved church— attacked Paul’s dubious integrity (he said he would visit them, he never did), his unimpressive personality and his unspectacular ministry. So many pastors and missionaries give up because of painful alienation in ministry. Are you tempted to give up? Paul never did. Why? His confidence in this ministry of reconciliation was unshakeably anchored in God’s mercy, not in man’s response or criticism. That is why he was able to declare boldly “we do not lose heart” in the previous chapter (4:1 and 4:16). May we look to Jesus to experience His purifying and persevering mercy.


Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, grant us a fresh encounter this Easter Sunday of the goodness of dying to all our futile efforts of self-redemption and the beauty of being a “new creation” (5:17) reconciled to You solely through Jesus.


Action

 

Confess and repent of how we as Christians superficially profess a message of reconciliation, but practice a culture of alienation so characterised by the presence of accusations and absence of Jesus’s love.


Rt Rev Dr Christopher Chia

Moderator, The Presbyterian Church in Singapore

Senior Pastor, Adam Road Presbyterian Church

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