Ambassadors of Reconciliation

July 8, 2016

“So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making His appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”  2 Corinthians 5:20

One of the most profound Scripture passages addressing the redemptive quality that can accompany suffering is found in the sixth chapter of Second Corinthians.  Paul tells us suffering is like a God-ordained ‘seminary’ in which God trains qualified ministers of the Gospel.  There is a sense in which this seminary never ends.

By passing through this seminary of suffering, we can be proven ministers of God.  When Paul uses “minister,” he does not mean a clergy-person; he means the minister every believer is designed, created, and recreated by God to be.  Everyone who has experienced the miracle of reconciliation to God through Christ has been commissioned to carry out the ministry of reconciliation as an ambassador for Christ.

How do we prove ourselves to be ministers?  Paul writes, “In afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5)

I call these adversities “wringers.” (Old washing machines had a wringer through which wet, soapy clothes passed to squeeze water out of them. It was very painful to get your hand caught in the wringer!)  These challenging adversities describe the daily life experience of the Apostle Paul. (More of Paul’s wringers are summarized in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.)

When we find ourselves in a wringer, the important thing is our response to that wringer. In 2 Corinthians 6:6, Paul shows us how to respond: “By pureness, knowledge, patience, kindness.”

In verses 6 and 7 of this passage, he tells us where to find the spiritual resources to respond as we should: “By the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the Word of Truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”

In verses 8-10, Paul describes the results when we respond to our wringers by drawing on spiritual resources:  “in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute.  We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see – we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”   These nine paradoxes profile the witness of the minister who has been trained in the ministry of suffering.

Loving Heavenly Father, use our suffering to make us faithful ministers of reconciliation, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


The Third Level of Commitment to Christ

October 11, 2013

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ…”  (2 Corinthians 5:20)

The third level of commitment to Christ is identified by the preposition “for Christ.” Paul concludes that when we understand all that we have available to us “by Christ,” and we fully appreciate what it means to be “in Christ,” we are therefore ambassadors “for Christ.”

Paul writes:“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)  According to Paul, everyone who has been reconciled to God by Christ has been given the message and the ministry of reconciliation.  This means every believer is a minister.  The seventh beatitude “blessed are the peacemakers” is another way of saying the same thing.  As conduits of God we should plead with people to be reconciled to God.

There is another application to this third level of commitment as demonstrated by the legendary missionary David Livingstone. On one very hot day in Africa, he faced a stream he had to cross. Holding his gear over his head he waded through sewer-like water that had a terrible odor.  Covered with decayed plant life up to his chin, when he reached the other side he laid down his gear.  Falling prostrate on his face, David Livingstone cried out, “Father I thank you for the privilege of going through this putrid jungle stream for You!”

I was once asked as a pastor to visit a missionary couple who returned after 48 years in China without any welcome or appreciation.  Although living in tenement housing and in poor health, they were in wonderful spirits.  When I inquired about their attitude they said, “You have to know Who you are doing it for.”

Do you know Who you are doing it for?