Bible readings: 2 Corinthians 5: 14 – 21
God of power and glory,
We weaklings cry out to be made strong in your name.
Release us we pray from all that would hold us back from following you more closely. Reach out to our wounded places and heal us in your fullness as we wait on you now with every fibre of our being.
May we hear your word for us today, absorb it and act on it.
Anoint my words so that they may be your words, and our thoughts so they may be your thoughts we pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ,
Mostly life toddles on for most of us, most of the time, at a steady pace. There are moments of anxiety and excitement but often it’s ho-hum – in a good way.
But we must admit, if we are listening well to ourselves and to others there are times when our very roots are shaken up.
Someone might point out in us qualities they don’t find attractive or they may remember for a long time something we’ve done, maybe without realising it, to upset them.
Or then again we may come to know in our spirit that we have grieved God’s heart and so need to be restored in relationship with our Heavenly Father. That’s what Jesus came to achieve for us by his life and death and glorious resurrection.
Unintentionally I landed up overhearing a fascinating conversation in the spa pool at Moana on Thursday between two adults, I don’t think related or in a relationship, a little older than me I suspect with the man explaining to the woman that there was another man who didn’t like her at all. ‘O’ she said I know him, he’s from the club and she named a health support group, ‘and no, I don’t like him either!’
Then from there I went to a leaders’ meeting of another church where strangely the topic arose about how we know if people don’t like us. Does it ever occur to us that someone wouldn’t like us? How do we know? Does it matter?
Sometimes of course we are in no doubt that we don’t like someone or they don’t like us. At their worst, such emotions can destroy us and rob us of joy in life.
That’s when we need God’s Holy Spirit to work in us, and others, healing, restoring, reminding us without a shadow of doubt of Jesus Christ’s gift of reconciliation on the cross.
How long have you ever lasted in determining not to talk to someone?
Have you ever refused to be in touch for ages?
Or maybe, sadly, you know what it’s like to be rejected, or excluded. Over my years of ministry some of the saddest stories I’ve heard are those from people whose children never speak to them or from those who have all kinds of conflict with other family members, friends or neighbours.
Sometimes it’s events right outside our normal sphere that unhinge us and upend us – earthquakes, bad news about or own health or of someone we love, accidents, loss of job or home or family.
How do we show the love of Jesus to people who hurt like this?
We affirm the truth and power of the Gospel – ‘Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again for us.’
There is always hope because Jesus is God’s lasting gift to us.
- Have you ever felt abandoned or unable to connect with those around you for whatever reason?
- What words or images might you use to describe the changes within you since you opened up your life to Christ’s reconciling ways
- In what ways do you know God’s power within you to help others who still need to be reconciled to Christ, and to others through Christ?
Vs. 14 – “Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all” I’ve never been part of a church with obviously divided factions but I’ve heard the horror stories of what can happen when Christians are more concerned with their own egos than about who they are in Christ, and all Jesus has done for and in them.
Christ’s love compels Paul to live only for Christ and to subdue all other calls or influences on his life. When we live like this there’s no room for enmity or hatred. When the love of Jesus fills us completely we simply can’t ignore, exclude or put down others. When we act like this, Paul implies, we are hurting God in fact. We are limiting then God’s power to change us, limiting, as if we could anyway, God’s identity and power.
Vs. 15 Since Christ died for us all, we should all want to spend the rest of our lives in service of him, rather than focusing on our own needs or worrying about who has wronged us.
Key verses , in this passage, I believe are vss. 17 & 18, which were extremely helpful to me in a very tricky situation over a couple of decades ago, which allowed me to even imagine and then come to believe in the hope of a new start, and the permanence of God’s healing and forgiveness.
”Therefore if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Verse 19 reminds us of the truth “that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
See, it’s an ongoing responsibility of ours, something God has gifted to us through Jesus.
But due to the joy and relief and ongoing hope that reconciliation, through God, brings us, it never feels like a dull duty. Paul is bowled over, stunned by what has happened to him. He is overwhelmed by the changes within him, thanks to the reconciling work of Jesus Christ. There is no other way that we could be close to God, unless God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, part of God’s Trinitarian being, could become like us, identify with us wholly
There’s a beautiful symmetry in all this– as we have been reconciled to God through Christ, so too we should bring about reconciliation with others, through the power of God who saves us – for a purpose, to help bring about his glorious plans on earth, to make a positive difference.
As we come particularly close to God in communion today we experience the joy of transformation and reconciliation with Almighty God.
The blood of Jesus reminds us of God’s penitential sacrifice for us.
See what progress you can make this week.
Start small, if you like.
Forgive others, forgive yourself, for small things even.
Receive forgiveness from God, and then offer it to others.
Know that by the grace of God, you are reconciled to him, being constantly restored by God’s power.
The old saying is true – “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?”
Let’s pray as we respond to our reconciling God