From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who 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 entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:16-20 NRSV
I love how Paul describes being a Christian in this passage. He doesn’t use the word Christian, or some of our other more common descriptors like, disciple or person of faith, but he does use two terms that I think we could use a little more time considering – a new creation and ambassador.
To be a new creation is to be in Christ, not just followers of Christ or believers in Christ. We are to be so fully Christ’s, so fully encompassed by Christ, that we are in Christ. This makes me think of one image that is often present around this time of year. The image I find myself thinking about is a key component of the life cycle of the butterfly, the chrysalis stage. We let go of what was and are cocooned by Christ. Through this reconciliation, we undergo metamorphosis and are utterly transformed. As Paul wrote, when we are in Christ, everything old has passed away and everything has become new! We emerge as butterflies when we fully live into our new life in Christ. When we live into our new life in Christ, we become ambassadors.
As ambassadors we share and model the new life God has in store for the whole world. The primary way we share/model this new life is through reconciliation. As with all aspects of a relationship, reconciliation is ongoing. This ministry and message of reconciliation is lived out not only in relationship with God, but with one another. Reconciliation requires the humility to admit that we are better together. This is God’s desire for the world, but not one we are quick to give into. We would much rather say we did it all on our own, that we didn’t need anyone’s help, or that a particular person or group has nothing to offer us. Though the reality is that many people do not choose this way of life, this is the life we are called to if we are to live into the new life we have in Christ. We cannot allow someone’s anger or cynicism dictate the freedom that God has already given the world through Christ.
We are called to forgive, whether the forgiveness is accepted or not. We are called to give someone another chance, whether we think they deserve it or not. We are called to hope for reconciliation among neighbors, family members, and nations, whether they are reconciled or not. We live into this forgiveness and hope with freedom knowing that God is at work through us, doing more than we are aware, and cultivating the promise of new life with each person we meet. This is the message that has been entrusted to us. This is the message we are to live with our lives.
So let us live, not held back by who we were yesterday, but flying freely into the future that awaits us all. Transformed and renewed every day as a new creation in Christ, so that the whole world might know reconciliation and wholeness. Thanks be to God for this ministry of reconciliation that never ends.
Let us pray...
Help me live today and every day in Christ. Surround me, hold me, and lead me to a new life of reconciliation. Open my eyes to the ways I need to be transformed so that I may be more fully yours and your ambassador in the world. Amen.
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I especially loved the paragraph starting with “we are called to forgive…” Thank you for your words of challenge & inspiration.