Motivation for ministry of reconciliation
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling[c] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Corinthians 5: 11-21)
All are motivated
People are motivated to do certain things in life that is beyond themselves. Some do things that are really good and some are really crazy or funny. In Television channels we can see how some adventurers go into jungles, mountains, glaciers and rocks and survive great ordeals. These ordeals are considered by many as odd and crazy. There are volunteers who like to die for their political leaders. In India, some film stars and sports stars have such dedicated fans who would even kill themselves when they fail. Some are so worried about the protection and welfare of animals while they do not bother about human beings and their misery. What motivates them? What sustains them? In fact, all people are motivated to accomplish something which is beyond their reach. They have their icons or ideals or idols to cherish. In this context, the disciples of Lord Jesus Christ evaluate their purpose and motivation.
Motivated to be a martyr
While we were in North India, we heard from a young soldier. He said, “My purpose is to protect the nation from enemies. I want to die as a martyr. When my body is buried with gun salute, I want my boss (Commander) to come and place wreathe. When he does he should shed tears that would wet my legs.” It was heart moving dedication. “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” (II Timothy 2:4)
When Paul writes to Corinthians he give five motivation factors for a disciple.
- Motivation by the Fear of the Lord
Paul in his previous para writes about pleasing God and the Judgment of God. (II Corinthians 9,10) “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!” (Psalms 33:8. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalms 111:10) When a person wisdom from God, will strive to be a wise son who gladdens his father. (Proverbs 10:1) We are children of God, and we always wish and desire to please God. It is not enough to be an obedient child or dutiful child but a pleasing child. The Elder son in the Prodigal Son parable was obedient and dutiful son but not pleasing son. When we please God, we have the confidence to stand before the judgment seat of God.
God said to Ezekiel that his ministry role is to be a watchman. That means to be alert, warn people of danger and turn them to the right path. The sacred responsibility is a joy to see the fruit of our labour. It will also be a burden and pain to see people disregarding our message. However, God rewards our faithfulness. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. (Ezekiel 3:17-19)
- Motivation by the Love of Lord
Paul writes that we are involved in ministry because of the love of the Lord. (II Corinthians 5:14) Lord Jesus Christ Love compels us to take risks, do daring things which with our own strength can accomplish. God’s love provides an Inner pressure and inner strength that cannot be contained or restrained. God loves humanity and gave His Son. (John 3:16) God’s love is manifested to ungodly, disobedient, rebels and sinners. (Romans 5: 1-11) God’s love controls and commissions us into the world to bring transformation.
Lord Jesus Christ love runs over our cups that flows and fills other empty cups.
- Motivation by being a New Creation
The third motivation dimension given by Paul is that we have become a New Creature. We are not prisoners of past sin, habits of sin, traditions, rituals, culture, and history. God has made us a new creature in Lord Jesus Christ. New creation means having renewed mind. (Romans 12:2) The thoughts, memories, reasons are renewed. The old paradigms, attitude, worldview and mindset are deleted and trashed. New creation also means new heart and new spirit. The desires, purpose, aspirations and ambitions are dictated by the new heart. “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”(Ezekiel 36:26) New Creation means new senses and limbs. We learn to see the world with different perspective. We listen to voices with different interpretation. Our hands are restless to do what is good. Our legs run to do what is righteous and just. Our words console and comfort people and warn evildoers. As new creature in the Lord, we long for eternal Home as Paul longed for. (II Corinthians 5:8)
- Motivation by Call of Lord Jesus Christ
God has called his children to be Ambassadors. (II Corinthians 5:20) Ambassador is a term used for envoys who represent a nation in another country. An ambassador has to hold his nation’s flag high, keep its reputation untarnished and exemplify the highest ideals, dignity, character, philosophy and identity of his country of citizenship. An ambassador does not convey his own thoughts but represents his nation. We are citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20) and sent as an Ambassador on this earth. The call for the disciples of Lord Jesus Christ is to live the values, priorities, righteousness, love, grace, holiness, forgiveness and truth on this planet earth at par with heavenly standards. This is an awesome call for each person. God has strategically placed each disciple in a specific place where s/he could only be the sole witness. A disciple in a college may be the only witness for a period of three to five years to a batch of about 50 students. A family living in a flat may be the sole witness for dozen families living as neighbours. Our calling in our context is sacred, and cannot be compromised.
- Motivation as stewards of the gospel
God has entrusted us with the ‘message of reconciliation’. (II Corinthians 5:19) God trusted us to entrust us with the Gospel. Without trust there is no entrustment or stewardship. “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service.” (I Timothy 1:12) Paul states that the Lord judged or counted or reckoned or considered him as faithful and gave him this appointment or commission to serve him. Indeed an amazing privilege. In the world, parents, children, siblings, kith and kin, friends, neighbours and colleagues do not trust us for simple and silly things, but God has entrusted us with the ‘ministry of reconciliation’.
Ministry of Reconciliation
The word reconciliation means change or exchange. God has reconciled the world through Lord Jesus Christ. God takes the initiative. God is not at fault, it is only man who is sinner. Even then, Lord takes the initiative. Lord Jesus accomplished salvation, justification, sanctification, redemption, forgiveness and new creation by His death and resurrection. It cannot be earned or borrowed or stolen but gratefully received as gift of God. We are called to persuade, beg, request, call, inform, urge and speak so that they reconcile people to living God. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”” (Romans 5:10)
God has chosen us to be his children as well as his ambassadors. It is privilege, honour and awesome responsibility. It is not an option, but a trust entrusted to us. A.T. Robertson, many years ago, said, “The pulpit is the Golgotha on which the preacher gives his life for the reconciliation of the world.” This is our calling.