It’s hard to know where to start with this selection. Paul jammed a smorgasbord of good news into these four statements taken from one of his letters to the people of the Christian church in Corinth.
“…that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation”.
What does Paul means when he speaks of reconciliation? Take a look at the verb “to reconcile” and you’ll find the two following definitions:
- To bring into agreement
- To restore to friendliness
When we combine the two meanings it paints a great picture…to bring into friendly agreement! Who doesn’t want that!?!
We all mess up in life. Show me someone who says they’ve never made a mistake and I’ll show you someone who doesn't have a firm grip on the realities of life!
Some mistakes aren’t earth shattering but they do make our life more difficult. Others have more serious consequences, tearing through lives like raging tornadoes, leaving a trail of wreck, ruin and devastation behind them.
Even if your mistakes have caused seemingly irreparable damage in your personal life and relationships, Paul says you can still be in “friendly agreement” with God. This news is a five course feast to the person who’s starved for unconditional love and acceptance.
“…not counting people’s sins against them…”
How many times do you relive the guilt and crappy feelings that accompanied the mistake you made?
God doesn’t do this to us. He doesn’t continuously regurgitate our past. He doesn’t count our sins (our mistakes and screw ups) against us. He promises we can live in friendly agreement with Him.
“…Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”
In one concise statement Paul explains how we claim God’s promise of freedom from sin. You see, Jesus was completely free from sin. He walked righteously with God.
Righteous is such a "churchy" word. Just hearing it kind of makes you want to rush out and do the opposite of whatever it means. So what does it mean?
Recently I was in a study group led by Gail Rodgers from Spruce Grove Alliance Church. She broke this word down into very basic terms. Simply put “righteous” means to have no rebellion in your heart…to not rebel.
Jesus never once rebelled against His Father, God. Even as He went to His painful death He still prayed, “…yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
How many of us can honestly pray this prayer? Sure, we might say the words because we think God approves of such a prayer. But, do our hearts really desire God’s will or our own desires?
Jesus was without sin. And somehow, supernaturally He took our sins (past, present and future) onto Himself. He took these with Him to the grave so we can live as though without rebellion before God; so we can live in friendly agreement with God.
I’m sure there’s a wonderful theological discussion that breaks down the process of how this all works…an explanation of the logistical process. I’ll be honest…I don’t know what that theological explanation is. I don’t really understand how God made it all work and you don’t have to either.
I do know this. Deep in my heart there’s a stirring, a whisper calling out an invitation to faith, to belief; a longing to go deeper in this journey of faith with Jesus.
Jesus’ final words on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30) mean exactly that. The battle’s over. When we believe in Jesus' death and resurrection as the Son of God, we’re a forgiven people living in friendly agreement with God.
Now that’s good news!
“…that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore on Christ’s behalf; Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
(NIV) 2 Corinthians 5:19-21