(16) The result is that from now on we no longer regard anyone according to the flesh. If we once regarded Christ according to the flesh we don’t do that any more! (17) Thus anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old things are gone. Everything has become new! (18) But all of these things come from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (19) As God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their transgressions against them, and giving us this message of reconciliation. — 2 Corinthians 5:16-19
Over the last week we’ve thought a number of times about the great difference between us and the world and how we need to be citizens of God’s kingdom now. Jesus came to earth and made it possible for us to come boldly before the throne of grace, and we need to get on with it!
But in the scripture today we have two elements. First, God has come to us and reconciled us to him. That’s the message about how different we are from the world. But even though God is very different from the world, he reconciled us to him through Jesus. At the same time as we’re very different from the world and separate from it, we do live in the world, and we do have a mission.
What God did for us, he asks us to help him do for other people. That’s what it means to be given the ministry of reconciliation. We are here to help people who are in the worldâ€”people who are not now part of God’s kingdomâ€”be reconciled to God.
(20) So we act as ambassadors for Christ as God makes his appeal through us. We beg you for Christ’s sake, be reconciled to God. (21) The one who didn’t know sin, he made sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. — 2 Corinthians 5:20-21
We’re here as ambassadors, carrying God’s message, speaking God’s words in the world.
Christians have had a lot of trouble with this over the years. We seem to waver from one extreme to the other. At times we are so anxious to reach the world that we start to look like the world ourselves. At other times we are so holy that the world with its needs cannot reach us. Some of the hermits in the early church were like that, even living for years on platforms on top of poles, so that the world and its temptations could touch them.
14I have given them your world, and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, in the same was as I am not of the world. 15I’m not asking that you take them out of the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. — John 17:14-16
The key to being in the world but not of the world is realizing that our citizenship is in heaven and not on this world, but that we are ambassadors. An ambassador must always remember who he represents. No matter how long he lives in a foreign country, he doesn’t become a citizen. He is always a citizen of his homeland and represents his homeland.
Remember your citizenship and your job.