I don’t know how you see yourself, but if you’re like me, often you think of yourself in a natural and earthly way. In other words, you don’t fully realize the truth of what God has declared and St. Paul teaches: you are a new creation. Paul says this, of course, only for those who are in Christ. But for those who are in Christ, we have to forget all of the ways of the world we’ve learned and apply ourselves to learn how to live in God’s new creation as a central part of it.
Theologically speaking, it is Jesus Christ who is the New Creation. We know that the first creation is doomed to perdition and futility because the first Adam sinned and fell. With Adam, all of creation fell as well, and so it has separated itself from its Creator. This is the source of all our suffering and trouble.
But thanks be to God that Jesus Christ is the Second Adam and the New Creation! His ministry is a ministry of reconciliation, that man might be reconciled to God, that man might be reconciled to man, and that the entire cosmos might be reconciled to God.
Now if this were all Paul was communicating, we could end our meditation here – and it would be plenty to meditate on. But Paul’s good news for us is even more astounding. Not only has Jesus Christ reconciled us to God, but also He has given us His ministry of reconciliation. If we are in Jesus Christ, who has now made fellowship with God possible again; if God has given us His Holy Spirit; if Christ is in us – then we too must be ministers of reconciliation.
In fact, since Christ is in us and chooses to minister through those whom He has ordained to be His ministers (the Church), we are the very means by which Christ reconciles the world to God. Think about this for a minute! God has entrusted to you and to me His divine ministry of reconciliation. He expects us, being in Christ and having the Holy Spirit, to be able to reconcile the world to Him!
This is why Paul says in verse 20 that we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ, as though God were pleading through us. God is pleading to the world through us. Therefore, the things we do in this life are of the greatest significance. When we as Christians are not reconciled to God, how in the world do we expect the world to hear God’s voice and seek reconciliation? But when we are reconciled to God and to one another, then even the angels are instructed about Christ and His New Creation.
I mentioned in the meditation on Christ’s prayer in theGardenofGethsemane(Luke 22) that it is through our obedience that theKingdomofHeavencomes. Every time we come back to God, whether through repentance or through waking out of the daily fog and walking back to Him, the world is reconciled to God. Every time I love my neighbor as myself, the world is reconciled to God.
Though God has given us a very weighty ministry indeed, we do it with joy and passion because the love of Christ compels us to (verse 14.) This heavy ministry is not a burden; it is not a mere duty that we take upon ourselves simply because God said it and we’d better do it.
No! We are a new creation. We are in Christ, and He is in us through the Holy Spirit! We are compelled to serve as Christ’s ministers of reconciliation, not because God is twisting our arms (all right, so sometimes He does!) We do it because of the love of Christ that He has for us and the love of Christ that we have for Him in return compels us to act with and for Him.
This is what I see constantly in the life of Paul: I see a man so submitted to God, so reconciled to God, and so desirous to obey that it is pure joy for Him to serve as God’s slave and minister. This same Paul who is so tough and hard that he seems indestructible at times is as tough as he is because He is made of the strongest material in the universe: love.
This ministry of reconciliation begins with us, with our own confession and repentance. Only those who are reconciled to God are equipped to serve as His minister of reconciliation to others. But after being reconciled with God on a daily basis, we must go out and minister in love. The way we conduct ourselves with family members, with other Christians, and with non-Christians has everything to do with how well we are acting as God’s ministers.
Behold! You are a new creation in Christ. You are His ambassadors to a warring and dying world.
Go out today and minister!
Prayer: Father, thank You for reconciling me in love to Yourself through Your Son. Thank you for entrusting to me Your ministry of reconciliation. Since I am unable to serve in such a high calling, give me both the fruits of the Spirit in increasing measure as well as the grace to use the gifts of the Spirit that You have already given me.
Points for Meditation:
- Meditate on the wonder of Christ’s sacrifice for you so that you could again live with God.
- Imagine the events of your day and Jesus Christ speaking through your words and actions.
- Meditate on the ways in your life that God has already quietly been calling you to serve as His ambassador.
Resolution: I resolve today to remember that God has entrusted to me the ministry of reconciliation. I resolve as well to consciously look for one practical way to consciously serve to bring this reconciliation to one other person today.
© 2011 Fr. Charles Erlandson
CC Image courtesy of Librarian by Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr.jpg
Category: Give Us This Day