Making God’s Appeal (2 Corinthians 5:20)
By Brent Rinehart
Today's Bible Verse: “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
In 1778, the newly formed United States of America established its first U.S. embassy – in Paris, France. Today, we have diplomatic relationships around the world, with ambassadors in more than 180 countries or territories. According to the State Department, an ambassador’s role is to be the “President’s highest-ranking representative to a specific nation or international organization abroad. When U.S. diplomats negotiate a treaty, attend a state dinner, or arrange a visa for a traveler to the United States, they all have the same mission—to represent the interests and policies of the United States.” The ambassador speaks for and represents his or her homeland to the country in which he or she resides.
I’ve been thinking about this passage in 2 Corinthians a lot lately, as we’ve seen the troubles in our nation and in the Church. We’ve been given a big responsibility. As followers of Christ, we are called to be God’s representatives – or ambassadors – to those around us. Those around us may only know of God by observing how we represent Him. The traits others see in us are what they must assume God is like.
So, if we know we are representatives of Christ, and we know that God is using us to make “his appeal,” then why are so many of us so unappealing? Many times, we act in such a way that drives others away, not draws them in. I, like the Apostle Paul, find myself saying and doing the things I know I shouldn’t, and not doing the things I know I should.
Paul writes that “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sometimes, despite the fact that we are new creations, it still feels like the “old” is hanging on. That’s why he also encourages us in Colossians to “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Colossians 3:5). We have to take off the old self and put on the new (v. 10).
But, many of us aren’t peacemakers, we are spirit breakers. We care more about “owning” the other side than we do about looking within and disowning our own sinful nature. We are passionate about our sharing our views on social media, but we hesitate to even say hello to a neighbor. We care little about the experience of others if it doesn’t impact us. We get hot under the collar over politics, but we are lukewarm in the pew. This isn’t the new creation Paul was talking about. It’s the old nature. It’s not appealing, it’s appalling.
It’s not a mistake that this verse is found in a section of Paul’s letter to Corinth in which he urges the church to be reconciled to God so we can have a ministry of reconciliation, pointing others to Him. When we come to Christ and we are at peace with God, we can have this opportunity to draw others to Him. It also gives us the heart to be at peace with those around us – to be peacemakers. If we can’t be reconciled with each other and be messengers of love and peace, not hatred, then how can we reach a world who doesn’t know Him?
Today, let’s set aside those tendencies of the old self and put on the new. God is ready to use us to make His appeal to those around us. The question is … are we ready to be used?
Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @brentrinehart.
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