“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.’” (CSB – Read the chapter)
If you are a follower of Jesus, have you ever wondered what salvation is for? Have you ever pondered why it is God has drawn us to Him through His Son? Well, the “why” is easy: His love. But what’s it for? In these verses Paul gives us an answer that’s as challenging as it is powerful. Check this out with me.
We know that in Christ we are new creations. Paul said that just before this passage picks up. When we are made new in Christ we are reconciled to God. Now, what does that mean? Think in terms of reconciling a checkbook, as it used to be called (now folks reconcile a QuickBooks report or something else digital like that). What are you doing when you do that? You are making sure everything matches up properly and that nothing is missing. The account is balanced. Everything is there. Nothing is inaccurately counted in your favor.
Being reconciled to God is a little like that. On our own, our accounts with Him are seriously out of balance. Because of His grace we are badly overdrawn. We have spent far more than we have made and the numbers don’t match. It’s not even close. In Christ, that gap is reconciled. Things are brought into alignment again. Jesus trades our debts out for His credits.
He can do that because His own account stayed perfectly balance for the whole of His life and then He received one giant credit because of the cross that is so big He can shave some off to share with us—and with everyone else in the world who wants some—that will be enough to cover what’s missing from our account. In other words, and to use the phrase again, in Christ we are reconciled to God.
In v. 19, though, Paul tells us that it’s actually bigger than that. It’s not simply we who are reconciled to God in Christ, in Christ God was reconciling the whole world to Himself. That is, He was providing a path for the whole world to have its account balanced in order to be straight with Him once again. In case that’s not totally clear, the next part of the verse spells it out even more. In Christ God was not counting the sins of the world against them.
Think about how ridiculously unfair that is for a minute. Jesus’ account has this enormous credit because of the work He’s done. We all have gigantic debits because of the shoddy work we’ve been a part of doing. And God uses Jesus’ credit in our favor. He did the work, we get the reward. As I said, ridiculously unfair. That’s grace.
This is far from the extent of what Paul said here. That’s the easy news. We’ll talk about the challenging news this afternoon.