Based On: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
I remember one job I had in Texas working for MCI, the telecommunications company. I had a supervisor who was very good at motivating his employees. He didn’t use force or threats or even money, instead, he would work for them. If you needed help getting your work done, he would find help or he would sometimes help. If a piece of equipment would help you do your job better, he would put it in the budget. If you had an interest in a particular technical field, he would help you get training – even if it meant you might get promoted out of his group. I remember feeling very motivated to work hard for this person who was willing to do so much for me.
As a Christian, what motivates you to work for Jesus Christ. Is it fear? I don’t think so. Does Jesus force you? No. Do you expect wealth or an easy life? I hope not. So what motivates the Christian? Why do Christians do what they do? Paul, as he writes to the Corinthians, answers this question. We see that Christ’s love compels us by his sacrifice for us and also Christ’s love compels us to tell others.
Why do anything? Why tell others about Jesus? Why not just take care of ourselves and not worry about others? We serve Jesus because of the work he did for us. Even though we often think about ourselves instead of him, he saved us instead of himself. The apostle Paul says it this way, "We are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died." You know what you deserve for your sin. The Bible tells you to must be perfect. If you are not perfect then you deserve the death of hell. But Jesus Christ jumped in front of the freight train of God’s wrath and pushed you aside. He saved your life. He suffered the death of hell for in your place. It is as if you died. What would you do for someone who saved your life?
Paul says it another way. "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting man’s sins against them." Do you know what it means to be reconciled? Imagine having a very wealthy relative who loves you and is willing to give you anything you need. When you do something that offends him, the relationship is broken and the blessings stop flowing from him to you. A third person comes along and mends the broken relationship. You have been reconciled to your relative and the blessings flow once more. You would certainly appreciate the person who worked the reconciliation.
There was discord and even hatred in our relationship with God, but the problem was all ours. Because of our sin we were enemies of God, but through Christ Jesus God took away our sins, and so he has removed the reason for our broken relationship. We have been reconciled with God and can now call God our Father and receive his blessings. We can truly thank Christ for what he has done.
Paul describes Christ’s sacrifice in even a third way. Paul wrote, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Consider these clear words of what Jesus did for you on the cross. You were on death row. It was only a matter of time before your life would end and the punishment of eternal death would be carried out for your hateful and adulterous thoughts, for your little lies and unkind words, and for the selfish actions your hands performed instead of serving God. Jesus came to your cell, opened the door and he didn’t just say, "I am taking your place. You are free to go." The words are even stronger than that. Jesus came to your cell and said, "I have become your hateful and adulterous thoughts, I have become your little lies and unkind words. I have become those selfish actions your hands performed. I have become your crime – your sins. God’s wrath against these sins has been poured out on me. Now you are my perfect life. You have become my righteousness. The reward my righteous life deserves is now yours."
With the weight of our sin lifted we are a new creation. We are no longer the person we once were, blinded by our sin and waiting without hope for the end of our life only to suffer more death. Now we have life. We have peace with God. We see that at the end of our earthly life a greater life waits for us. Our savior has rescued us from certain death by his own death. Life has been given to us. Now we no longer live for ourselves but we live for Jesus Christ, the one who gave us our life.
“He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” To have someone die in your place, to have someone reconcile you to the God who gives every blessing, to have someone become your crime so you could live forever, that is motivating! That compels us to work for him! That means our life is not our own, but a gift to be used in service to him.
This is where we see Christ’s love for us. We see it in his life, death, and resurrection where he paid for our sins and won eternal life for us. This display of his love compels us, but it compels us to do something we want to do. Christ’s love compels us to tell others.
Because of all that Christ has done for us Paul writes, "from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view." In the past we thought of people in terms of their relationship with ourselves. How can they help me? How do they make me feel? But now all that is changed. We don’t look at people in this worldly way; we now look at people in connection to Christ’s love. Everyone has a relationship with God, whether he is an enemy or a child of God. As someone affected by Christ’s love we want to know if they have faith in their savior Jesus Christ. If they do, wonderful – we help them grow in their relationship with their Savior. If they do not, we want to tell them about how God has reconciled them to himself. We know that if they do not know Christ’s love for them, they will suffer the eternal death that all of us deserved.
The apostle Paul says that God "gave us the ministry of reconciliation." God has given us this ministry, this work of telling others about the reconciliation Christ has made between them and God.
The message of reconciliation encompasses everything that we do. We do not exist here as a congregation simply to make friends and to remain our own little group, but our purpose is to tell others about the peace they have with God – to tell them about Christ’s love and his sacrifice.
This is the work God has given us to do. He has made us his representatives. "We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." What a privilege and honor it is to have this important responsibility. It is a way to say thank you. And so we tell others about the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for them. As Paul says, “we implore” them as Christ’s representatives, "be reconciled to God."
In the book entitled “Good to Great” the author researched the special qualities that enable some companies to not just to be good, but to be great. The author of this book found that the leaders of those companies have the attitude that they should serve the company instead of the company serving them. Through their own sacrifice those leaders motivate those who work for them. As Christians, this shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus Christ has been that kind of leader all along and his self-sacrificing love compels us to tell others about him.