Pella Chronicle

August 31, 2012

Getting radical!

By Rick Cowman
The Chronicle

Pella — Last time we looked at the Apostle Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians chapter 5:  “The love of Christ controls us (vs 14).”  Christ’s love for us is free, unconditional, and unending!  And an understanding of His love for us is the RADICAL MOTIVATION, or controlling influence for us to love others.

Now, in verse 18 we are faced with another radical change from the old life to the new life in Christ.  Here we read God has called us to a RADICAL MINISTRY!  Here’s what it says:  “God reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation!”  What doe it mean to be “reconciled”?  It means God broke down the wall of sin which separated us and He destroyed the hostility between us because of that sin.  In doing this, He made peace with us through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ!  God removed the wall that separated us from Him in order to establish a relationship with us, and so we could become ministers of His reconciliation to those around us!

We find our charge for ministry in verse 20:  “We are ambassadors for Christ…(and) we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God!”  As believers, we are ambassadors, or representatives of God’s redeeming grace. We are to carry the message of God’s plan of reconciliation to others that they may be forgiven of their sin and have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

But how can we minister God’s grace to others if we are not demonstrating reconciliation in our relationships with each other?  How can we tell others of the love of Christ when His love isn’t controlling us?  Those who observed the early church in action said of them, “See how they love one another!”  If we are to impact people around us, we must be authentic models of God’s love and forgiveness.  This means we must practice His word which says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave you (Eph. 4:31-32)!”

God made the way for us to walk rightly, and that means to walk in unity! In verse 21, we are told, “God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him!”  Unity comes as we are first reconciled to God, receiving forgiveness through a relationship with Christ, then as we choose to forgive each other just as God forgave us in Christ!  If we don’t, the bitterness and unforgiveness will eat us alive!  You see, forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and finding out you were the prisoner!  We were not called to live in bondage, but to live free in Jesus Christ!  The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus came to set us free!

I can testify to the truth of this in my own life, as I have experienced times of bitterness toward others during some life-shaping events.  Divorce shook my life 25 years ago.  A failure in pastoral ministry 15 years ago caused me great anguish.  And most recently, I went through 4 years of struggle with a couple of my siblings and I allowed this to dominate my thoughts.  In each of these events, God gave me an opportunity.  These were opportunities to grow, or to be crushed.  I’d like to be able to tell you my immediate response in these situations was that of forgiveness;  but it wasn’t! But God was faithful, and when I chose to forgive those who had hurt me and allowed God to shape my life through these events, He did!  The family struggle I mentioned was resolved and reconciliation came when I humbled myself and prayed from my heart, “Lord, help me to forgive and do what’s right.  Above all else, I want you to be glorified!”  He answered that prayer, and the weight I was carrying was lifted off my shoulders!  Through each of those events in my life I have learned that even the most painful things in life God will use to grow us and glorify Jesus, if we allow Him to.  Here's some encouraging words for you today:  You can fail forward!

Are you willing to get a little radical?  Are you willing to go to those who have wronged you or to whom you have wronged and allow God to reconcile your relationships?  In light of all that God has forgiven us, and on the basis of God’s acceptance of us in Christ, how can we not forgive and accept each other?  We can, and we must!  The ministries of our churches depend on it, the blessing of God in our personal lives depends on it, and the people in our community who are headed for a Christ-less eternity depend on it!  So, let’s get radical!