“Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 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. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: ‘Be reconciled to God.’” (CBS – Read the chapter)
This morning we laid eyes and hearts on the truly amazing fact that in Christ, God doesn’t count our sins against us. Rather, He counts Jesus’ credit in our favor so that our accounts can be reconciled. Once we’ve been reconciled, though, then what?
Paul tells us here twice just to be sure we get it. God reconciled us to Himself in Christ “and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” If that wasn’t clear enough, he says it again in v. 19. God was reconciling the whole world to Himself in Christ “and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.”
Clear enough for you?
We are the medium for God’s message. His primary tool for advancing the news that He has made available a path to be reconciled with Him in Christ is you and me. This is exactly what Paul says in v. 20. God is making His appeal to be reconciled to Him through us, through our lives.
What this makes us Paul says there as well. It makes us ambassadors for Christ. Do you know what an ambassador is? You’ve certainly heard the word in the news when so and so is announced as being nominated to be the ambassador to this or that nation. But what does that mean? An ambassador is a representative of one nation, stationed in another, whose primary job is to advance the interests of his home nation in that foreign land. He is the primary liaison between the leader of his home country and the people of his host nation.
If you have accepted His offer of grace and life and have experienced the wonder of being made right with God, you are in a position by nature of the gift you have to tell others about it. You are in a position to advance the interests of Christ into the lives of the people around you. And the primary interest of Christ is for them to be reconciled to God. Paul literally spells this out here: We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.”
This is all what salvation is for. Our salvation, our being reconciled to God, is for the purpose of becoming active agents in seeing the people around us experience the same reconciliation in their own lives. More than that, we become active agents in seeing the whole world reconciled to God. Every part of it is broken by sin and every part of it is in need of reconciliation. It is in need of the transformation only Christ can bring.
As for how we do this, we can start with our own story of reconciliation. And here let me address some pushback that may already be welling up in your heart. Your testimony of Christ’s reconciling power is good enough to convince other people to be reconciled to God just how it is. You don’t need a more “powerful” testimony like someone else may have. God has given you your story. Tell it.
If you have truly experienced the reconciling grace of Jesus, then at one time in your life you were on a path of sin that was leading you straight to Hell. Your account with God was hopelessly out of balance and Jesus came along and made it right by sharing His credit with you. Tell people that. Tell them the difference the Holy Spirit has made in your life.
We can offer apologetic evidence where that is helpful. We live in a day when there are good answers available to pretty much any question about the faith anyone is going to ask. The evidence for the historical reliability of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, is vast and airtight. Just recently some archaeologists announced they found an inscription bearing the name of yet another obscure Old Testament character (a servant of King Josiah) demonstrating the truthfulness of his account.
More than either of these—and this is especially appropriate given the state of our culture—we can reason with people about the emptiness of a life out-of-balance with God. More and more our culture is haunted by a need for God. We see it in the growth of spiritually hungry seekers. We all do indeed have a God-shaped hole in our lives. We have, as a people, shoved God out of that hole thinking we could fill it with ourselves. We couldn’t and now we’re searching. The more and harder we search, though, the more pressing our sense of emptiness will be as we gradually realize that nothing else fits.
This is where we ambassadors of Christ make our plea: “Be reconciled to God!” Put Him back in the place He designed for Himself in your life. Have that nagging sense of inadequacy, that sense that you owe someone something but can’t quite place your finger on what fulfilled. Be reconciled to God. We do all of this because it’s what our salvation is for. If you have been reconciled to God, call others to the same. You are His ambassador.