Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe. . .

2Cor. 5:14b-21
   14b. . . Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 
   16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 
   18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

In this passage we see a bit of the Apostle Paul's superb capacity with logic. The fact-- that Christ died for all-- was well established in the church by this point, as it is today. No one of faith questions the fact of Christ's death and resurrection. Without that there is no meaning to Christianity at all-- it is at the heart of what it means to 'be Christian.' Therefore, logic dictates, that we must necessarily believe the relevant corollary-- we who are in Christ-- have also died to our old nature.

Problems arise here for us because experience among Christian groups validates that there are yet bunches of old-nature behaviors going on. It is a hard task to 'die to self.'  The old self hangs on like paint on my hands after it has dried. Thinners, water, and cleaner does not remove all of it. There remains vestiges of the old color speckles revealing what my weekend activity had been-- painting my house.  We hold back from stepping into a complete washing by Christ's Holy Spirit because we might long to hold on to some of our old self-desires, dreams, hopes, and longings. We might be unwilling to be content with that which God gives to us and seek more than we need or can use.

However, if we are truly willing to 'no longer live for ourselves' (vs 15) being, therefore willing to live for Christ, then we can also believe the subsequent corollary of Paul's first principle-- that not only have we died to old selves but we have become alive to a new self. We are, what Paul calls, 'new creatures' or 'new creations.' We are a creation never before created because now we are a being symbiotically alive together with the Spirit of Holy God (vs 17).

The Grace of God is further illustrated by reminding us (vs 18) that we don't deserve any of this honor, but it is God's gift to us. A gift is just that, not something earned but something given in love that is not earned or deserved, just freely given. And a further part of this gift is that we have been made into ambassadors for Christ called to reconcile people to Him, just like he reconciled people to God. This is true because that very nature of Christ is alive within us so because He reconciles, we also reconcile. And we are "made right" before God. We don't become right by some virtuous actions or abilities but God makes us right in the same way a potter might make a pot or a vase beautiful. We are molded, shaped, shaded, tinted, and baked to perfection through the interaction with God because of our faith in Christ.

Rejoice today for this great and wondrous calling we share in our Lord Jesus Christ
Your servant

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