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Prepare

Take time to pray about any relationships that may be strained, broken or distant.


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Bible passage: 2 Corinthians 5:11 – 6:2


The Ministry of Reconciliation
 11Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

 16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 6

 1As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. 2For he says,
   "In the time of my favor I heard you,
      and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


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The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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In need of repair
Reconciliation is the purpose of the whole of this letter. Paul’s relationship with the church at Corinth is in need of repair and this is a source of great pain (see 6:11–13). There are hints of previous correspondence in which the Corinthians have described Paul as ‘out of his mind’ (v 13).

Desire to be reconciled
Sometimes a spiritual issue underlies strained human relationships. Here, a deeper reconciliation between the church and God is required. A relationship can remain unrepaired even when one party offers unconditional reconciliation. Despite all that God has done (vs 14,18,19,21), there still has to be movement from the church’s side, a desire to be reconciled (v 20).

Living out a new identity
As far as Paul is concerned, it amounts to the same thing for the church at Corinth to be reconciled to God and for its relationship with him as apostle to be repaired. Reconciliation is the outworking of the sacrificial death of Christ, living out a new identity in him (v 17). Resistance to being reconciled is an affront to the gospel. Paul’s urgency in calling for reconciliation reflects Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:23,24. The time for reconciliation is always ‘now’ (6:1,2). It is not possible to continue with ‘business as usual’ in our relationship with God if a human relationship needs to be repaired.

Steve Silvester

Respond


Hear God’s heart in this passage. Do you need to be reconciled to him, or to someone else? Is he calling you to be his ambassador, inviting others to be reconciled?


Deeper Bible study


Are we in any way weary of engaging in God’s mission? If so, there is much in these verses to reignite our passion. We participate in mission because we ‘fear’ the Lord (v 11). Fear is used here in the sense of reverence. Because Paul has a deep reverence for God and a longing to see God’s name honoured, he engages wholeheartedly in gospel mission. A similar passion for God’s name will lead us to do likewise. Further, there is the glory of the gospel itself. Try to appreciate the breathtaking scope and power of the reconciliation of which verses 18–20 speak. This is all possible thanks to Christ’s death on the cross for us (v 21). What a gospel this is! What is more, God uses us to share it. We are ambassadors, Christ’s representatives declaring the world-changing good news. We might have chosen another way of getting the gospel out but, amazingly, God uses you and me. What a privilege!

We are also pointed to a further motive for mission: ‘Christ’s love compels us’ (v 14). When I was younger, I was present at a question-and-answer session with a missionary who had spent many years in cross-cultural service. At one point he turned the tables on us and asked us a question: ‘What motivates you for mission?’ We came back with several responses, including those mentioned above. To our surprise he said we were missing something and directed us to 2 Corinthians 5:14. We were told that if we did not love others with the love Christ puts in our hearts we would find it hard to sustain a life of faithful missionary service. There are many motives for mission and we need them all, but we should never forget the words of Paul: ‘Christ’s love compels us’.

Pray for a greater passion for God’s name and a deeper love for others. Pray that someone you know may be ‘reconciled to God’ (v 20) through you.

Rev Dr Peter Morden

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  • Song: A Thousand Times (From The Inside Out)
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Comments
  • Rachael Hampton | Monday, 19 August 2019

    Oh Amen Dr Peter! Having been transformed, made a whole new creature with God’s DNA in our spirits, and Christ’s righteousness imparted to us, it should be easy to let His love control, urge and compel us. These truths boggle the mind, they are so wonderful, but we still have wills and must choose to push through the clamours of our flesh crying, ‘what about me?!’ to fulfill our commission as ambassadors, Christ’s personal representatives in our little corners of this world.

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