Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. 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.     2 Corinthians 5:11-18 (NLT, my emphasis)

It’s Holy Thursday. Time is growing short as Jesus keeps His promise and finishes His mission. In your mind’s eye do you see the calm resolve in the Messiah’s eyes? Do you see the fear in the eyes of the disciples? Do you see Satan licking his lips as he anticipates his victory? Does that bring a secret smile to your spirit because you know that it is Jesus who has the victory and completes His mission of reconciliation? He became the perfect Blood sacrifice to reconcile us to the Father and to each other because it was His plan that we work together for His Kingdom.

How are we doing in this ministry of reconciliation?

A Sincere Heart. We are to work to persuade others about what? How great our ministry or our denomination is? No. We are to let our hearts shine with the clear, simple message of God’s love and His desire to have a relationship with them. What that relationship looks like and how it manifests itself is between God and His child. Just as I have a unique relationship with each of my children, and no one is better, so God has with each of His children. We are all His favorite!

The Messiah died for ALL. It is sometimes hard for me to wrap this truth around my very human mind. I’d like to think that I am not judgmental – but I am. God’s child is a Muslim, a Hindu, a homosexual, a murderer, a gossip, a liar, a thief. Jesus wanted both thieves to be with Him in Paradise. Jesus invited Matthew the tax collector, who swindled desperately poor people out of their money, to be His disciple. Peter, the Rock, was a hypocrite even after the Holy Spirit touched him on Pentecost (Galatians 2:11-18). Jesus died for us all, as imperfect as we are. We are not perfect. We struggle to reject our sinful nature, that it would die so that we truly live in fellowship. It is by grace and our LORD’s great mercy that we have a relationship with Him. To demand perfection from others before we invite them to fellowship (break bread) when we ourselves are not perfect – I see Jesus turning over our Hypocritical Tables in His house again!

See others with the eyes of Christ. When Jesus looked at the leper, the centurian, Judas at the Passover table, Peter across a courtyard, He looked at them with compassion. He saw their hearts, their weaknesses, their sin and still loved them. When Jesus looked at the Pharisees and the Scribes – not so much compassion. He saw their hearts too. Pride, hypocrisy, self-importance and lack of compassion and love had Jesus warning us that with the measure of forgiveness that I extend to others is the same measure that I will receive (Luke 6:37-38).

Reach out. My husband and I are very different people. We come from different histories. I grew up playing sports and Henry grew up collecting spores. We met at church but our relationship with God is very different – much like Peter and Paul! When it became apparent that God had brought us together, many people labeled us a “power couple.” (Yes, a chuckle is OK!) Our marriage ceremony even reflected the bringing together of two very different perspectives in God’s Kingdom. We accept that part of our ministry is about bringing others who are very different together with the hope that they recognize their love for Christ and the desire to build His Kingdom. I know two pastors who are mighty men of God, compassionate, powerful teachers. They could do so much to encourage each other, a “power team” but would their disagreement about homosexuals keep them from seeing what they can agree – Jesus and Him crucified?

My brothers and sisters, Jesus came and died that we might live. How can we do anything less for all those who are starving for the Hope that only Jesus can give? Let us think about who Jesus has invited to His Passover table and let us sit down and break bread (fellowship) together. Let us be reconciled.

Come to Jesus written and sung by Chris Rice


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