Ambassadors of Reconciliation
2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2
Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
According to YouGov, the online polling company, sixty-eight percent of US citizens planned to make New Year’s resolutions for 2018. The top three, by a wide margin, were eat better, exercise more, and spend less money. Other resolutions were better self-care (including get more sleep), read more books, take up a new hobby, make more friends, learn a new skill, and get a new job. A new year feels like a fresh start. We can put the failures of the previous year behind us and begin again. We have good intentions. This month we stay on track, but in February we start to slide. By March, most of us are back to our old habits. Why are resolutions so hard to keep?
Perhaps it’s because we envision our ideal selves, slender and strong, financially stable, with a broad network of supportive friends and a range of healthy habits, and when we compare our real selves with those ideal selves we might feel a bit overwhelmed. Inadequate. Less than. Maybe in the spring, with swimsuit season fast approaching, we get back out there, determined to take advantage of better weather and more available local produce and eager to remake ourselves. But then autumn rolls around, then the holidays, and by next January we are back to our old habits once again, making the same resolutions. Lasting transformation feels impossible.
Paul the Apostle wrote that if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. Through Jesus we are reborn and remade. Whereas once we were alienated from God by our sin, now we are reconciled to him through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Perhaps our spiritual renewal prompts a physical one as well: knowing that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we want to make our bodies healthy vessels for him. Knowing the priorities of Jesus, we might adjust our habits to include more time for praying, studying scripture, and serving others. Perhaps keeping in mind our renewal in Christ is better motivation for a life change than simply wanting to look better or have more friends or more money in the bank.
Jesus gave us the opportunity for salvation and renewal. We are no longer enslaved by sin and death but free to live abundantly. Jesus also gave us our marching orders: to share the good news throughout the world. We are his ambassadors, spreading the word about the reconciliation available to everyone who accepts Jesus as savior and lord. We are also to be an example of this reconciliation. The church is to model a world transformed by the exorbitant love of God expressed by his grace through Jesus. We are the recipients of his reconciliation, charged with sharing that reconciliation with one another. God, who does not hold our sins against us, expects—commands—us not to hold the sins of others against them. His free gift of salvation is an astonishing thing. We cannot earn it, nor can we expect others to earn it. We are all sinners, all imperfect. And we are all invited into his kingdom. The only resolution we need to make to ensure our real and lasting transformation is to accept the Gift and follow the Giver.
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship and stay for Discovery Hour (all ages, little ones through adults).