2 Corinthians 5:11-21 11
Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we seek to persuade people. We are completely open before God, and I hope we are completely open to your consciences as well. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, so that you may have a reply for those who take pride in the outward appearance rather than in the heart. 13 For if we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we have a sound mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If One died for all, then all died. 15 And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised. 16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 18 Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ 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 He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
In these few verses, the Apostle Paul opens up his life to us and reveals his innermost self and motivations for being in the ministry. Paul was very focused, so much so that some considered him to be a radical. (Jesus experienced the same reactions from others, including His own family.)
The Corinthians assumed Paul had less than pure motives in his ministry. Surely no one would voluntarily subject himself to the pain and suffering Paul experienced without some self-serving motivation. In these verses, Paul explained that his ministry of reconciliation was God-given, and that it grew out of his fear and love for both God and those he ministered to. The one who has received reconciliation should no longer live for himself, but for the ONE who redeemed them.
Even among many Christians, the word “evangelism” brings negative images of an over-zealous Christian with a huge Bible in one hand and their index finger in the face of some poor lost soul shouting “Repent!” Within the secular world, the term “evangelism” has an even more negative image.
The original term means to share good news. In Paul’s day evangelism was a “good” word. People would be eager to hear the “good news” the evangelist was bringing. Do you suppose your attitude toward evangelism would change if you saw evangelism as “the ministry of reconciliation”? We have all experienced the immense joy of reconciliation.
I remember the first time I shared the complete plan of salvation with a friend while in high school. I had memorized my presentation using a marked Bible. I was about 16 and it was just the two of us in the living room of his house. The presentation was entirely a monologue.
Now, I don’t view myself as an evangelist telling people how to be saved, but rather as a minister of reconciliation. “Reconciliation” goes far deeper than the popular view of being saved. I asked him if I could explain how to be saved, and when he said yes I began to “tell” him the plan of salvation. While the experience was stressful I did feel a great joy in telling him how to be saved.
- Don’t view evangelism as an obligation or a duty but as a ministry of reconciliation. How will being reconciled with God benefit the ones you are concerned about? Has God ever used you to bring about reconciliation between two people? What steps did you take to bring about the reconciliation?
- Most people are helped by realizing there’s no one right way to share the gospel with others. As you read the text above, make a list of Paul’s motivations for being so earnest in fulfilling the ministry of reconciliation. How were Paul’s beliefs and actions in harmony with each other? Do your actions reflect what you believe about the ministry of reconciliation?
- What do you see as Paul’s motivation for being so passionate about the ministry of reconciliation that had been given to him?
- How did the motivations of fear and love work together with Paul’s calling to cause him to be so focused in his ministry?
- How can fear, love and our calling from God work in harmony to give our lives focus and direction?
- What are you afraid of? Passionate about?
- Paul had two fears, two loves and one calling. What do you think about that statement?
- Do you believe God has given you the ministry of reconciliation as He did for Paul?