Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that 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. We 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. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (verses 17-21)
Being made new in Christ is a full-orbed encounter. When a caterpillar is transformed into a butterfly, it doesn’t just sit around thereafter, looking pretty. No, there’s active engagement – it flies! So, too, for anyone in Christ. The transformation – this profound newness – brings an individual right through the door into the front-line of Kingdom activity. Having been reconciled to God, we ourselves are inducted into the ministry of reconciliation.
I’m just re-reading Jackie Pullinger’s inspiring book, “Chasing the Dragon,” the story of her ministry among Triad gang members in the squalor of Hong Kong’s former Walled City. As she met in prison with a convicted murderer, telling him the Good News of Jesus, he protested that there couldn’t be any future for him because of what he’d done. Jackie then shared with him the story of Paul, a murderer himself, but redeemed by the Lord and commissioned to spread the message of Jesus to multitudes of others. Stunned, the convict blurted out, “Do you mean that as well as being forgiven I can have work to do for God?”
Amen. It’s exactly what Paul himself says in this passage. This profound ministry comes hand in hand with the transformation. He “gave us the ministry of reconciliation … he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors …”
Lest we protest that Paul is only speaking about himself in his unique role as an apostle, we need to reflect on the fact that it flows directly from his opening statement: “if anyone is in Christ.” That term, “anyone,” is inclusive, limited only by the following phrase, “in Christ.” For each of us who has become a new creation, reconciled to God in Christ, the commission is given. Having been reconciled to God, we ourselves are inducted into the ministry of reconciliation.
So, watch for the opportunities. The Lord will use each of us differently, having equipped us, each one, with different gifts and temperaments and capacities. Some will follow in the footsteps of Paul himself, travelling far and wide to preach the gospel. Others will share it one on one with their own children, or in the workplace through integrity and caring words, or in acts of compassion in their own communities, or through ongoing prayer for friends and others. Some will engage in formal ministry of all kinds; others in spontaneous moments that arise in daily life. Some will be called evangelists, others simply witnesses. But all of us, in Christ, have the joy to be engaged with the Lord himself in his ongoing ministry of reconciliation.
“We are ambassadors for Christ.” Each one. Use us, O Lord.
Yes, Lord, use even me. Give me eyes to see the opportunities your open before me. With heart and hands and voice, equip me as your minister. May the joy of reconciliation flow. To your glory. Amen.
Pray: Commit yourself afresh to the Lord for his purposes this day. Pray that he would open doors of opportunity. Keep eyes peeled to see the results.