“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”–2 Corinithians 5:18-21
I used part of this verse in my last post, but I have come back to it as it has been a pivotal concept for me lately. How beautiful is it that in Christ, our sins do not count against us? How beautiful is it that we have a Savior who bore our shame, who took death and hell by the throat and SCREAMED “THE VICTORY IS NOT YOURS!” This is the God that I serve, who wrapped himself in skin and bore our humanity for the sake of making us right with him.
Last week, I had the glorious opportunity to chaperone our youth to Caswell for Youth Week 6. God really challenged me this week to learn what reconciliation truly looked like. I have been helping out with this youth group for about 3 years now, and this week, everything came out in the open, we talked about the beauties and horrors of their lives, we talked about sin done by us and to us, we talked about the garish details that most church folks want to leave out of everyday conversation.
As I heard the stories and shared bits of my own with them, I saw this truth: God is not surprised by our circumstances and the call on our lives to submit ourselves to His will does not change. As I heard stories from some teenagers who are very, very close to my heart, I was stretched between brokenness and the beautiful potential I saw in the testimonies God is cultivating in them. My prayer for ALL of them is that they would grasp the importance of their testimonies as it relates to sharing the Gospel.
Whitney, one of the other chaperones said this, “Some people can’t memorize entire books of the Bible and repeat them to others in witnessing, but we have our own personal experiences and what God has done in our lives is a great place to start telling people about Jesus.” This is absolutely true. When the Bible talks about the Priesthood of the Believers, it means that our advocate is Jesus Christ, and we don’t need a middle man. We ourselves have been charged with the weight of ministry, ministering to all and sharing the Gospel.
In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes that the ministry that believers have is one of reconciliation. We are to help others become reconciled to God as we have been reconciled. In the grand scheme of salvation and the life of a Christian, reconciliation is everything. God, in his love, poured out his wrath on Jesus, dying on the cross for the sins that separate us from God. It was his mercy that exploded in white-hot anger. His wrath poured out on himself, on his Son, to take our place.
It was Jesus that bore the scars of a rebellious humanity. The only perfect, sinless man, transfigured into an ugly, sin scarred beast for the sake of those he loves.
I can’t help but think of the Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. In the story, a man named Dorian has an artist named Basil paint a picture of him. Dorian lives a lavish, hedonistic lifestyle full of debauchery and every sin imaginable and he does not age, he doesn’t become marred with the physical consequences of his life and stays young and beautiful, until the end, of course, but I won’t spoil it for you. Instead of his sin showing on him physically, the picture becomes ugly. The portrait painted by Basil takes on the putrid form of who Dorian’s evil truly makes him to be.
The point is, Jesus did the opposite. Dorian was selfish, arrogant, deplorable. His appetite was for himself, to glorify himself and live how he wanted. Instead of that, Jesus lived for others, he gave his life and became the ugly picture for us. Instead of him sinning and transferring the consequences to the portrait, WE sinned and the consequences were transferred onto the canvas of the Son of God. He bore our greif, so that we could be considered clean in the sight of God. This is the ministry of reconciliation we are each called to. Sharing the message of what God has done in our lives. WE WERE BORN TO TESTIFY THE GOODNESS OF GOD IN SPITE OF THE UGLINESS OF HUMANKIND.
Salvation comes through nothing else. Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Not of the good we’ve done, but of the glory of a God who kneels down, taking the punishment he has every right to lay on us.