Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 1 2013 - 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 – Compelling love

In the second half of 2 Corinthians 5, Paul describes the complex of motivations that drive him to tell others of Christ. Knowing that all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ creates a fear of God which makes Paul want others to be reconciled to God through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10-11). But his mission is not motivated merely by the awareness of judgment to come; it is powered by Christ’s love. “Christ’s love compels us”, he says, “because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (5:14-15).

Paul is compelled by this love. Christ died for him and was raised for him. Paul has died with Christ and has been raised with him; he now lives solely to serve and please Christ. Moreover, since Christ died for all, the sentence of death has been passed on all in him. Therefore this message of new life needs to be proclaimed to all so that they also might have life in him and live no longer to please themselves but Christ.

In the death of Jesus Christ, God has brought this present world to judgment. But, by his resurrection from the dead, God has brought a new creation to birth. And all who are united with Christ by faith have become part of that new creation: “If anyone is in Christ, new creation! The old has gone, the new has arrived” (5:17). In Christ, everything has become new and everything is now viewed from a radically new perspective. As a minister of the gospel, Paul has become a midwife of the new creation, bringing it to birth in the lives of those to whom he ministers.

Paul preaches a message of reconciliation. Not that Paul was seeking to reconcile people to God. Rather, he declared that God had himself performed that great work of reconciliation in Jesus Christ. The sin and wrongdoing which separated us from God was placed on Jesus Christ, our sacrificial lamb. He became sin for us; he bore the punishment which our sins deserved and so gained forgiveness for us. God has displayed his righteousness in Jesus, vindicating his claim to be the Christ by raising him from the dead. And all who trust in him share in his resurrection life – share in the righteousness of God. In Christ, God has reconciled the world to himself, and it is on this basis that Paul is engaged in a ministry of reconciliation – seeking not to reconcile people to God but to encourage them to return to the God who has reconciled us to himself in Christ.

Those who have discovered the wonders of God’s love and grace in the Lord Jesus Christ cannot keep it to themselves; they will want others to discover that God is not an angry judge but a waiting Father, longing for the return of his children whom he has redeemed at great cost. Christ died for us that we might live for him and make him known – that we too might be ambassadors for Christ and his kingdom.

Father God, you so loved the world that you gave up your Son to die for us that we might not face judgment but might have the life of the age to come. Captivate me with your love that I might see all things in the light of Christ’s resurrection. May the love of Christ compel me this day to tell others the good news of what you have done for a lost world in him. Continue your reconciling work through your reconciled people and, by the power of your Spirit, bring new creation to birth.

Peter Misselbrook