2 Corinthians 5:11-21
It is because we know this solemn fear of the Lord that we work so hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. Are we trying to pat ourselves on the back again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart before God. If it seems that we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Whatever we do, it is because Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them.
So we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though he were merely a human being. How differently I think about him now. What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!
All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, "Be reconciled to God!" For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Paul starts off by letting the Corinthian church know that his ministry was not about him being arrogant or patting himself on the back. He had a sincere heart to serve the Lord with his very life and make sure that everyone he came in contact with knew about the salvation plan of the Lord. Paul was radically passionate about what he was doing, which probably made him look pretty crazy to the outside world. His image or what he looked like to others meant absolutely nothing to him, all that mattered was that he brought glory to God by touching lost souls.
In the American Christian culture, we have allowed image and pride to creep into our ministry circles. Lost souls and bringing glory to God isn't always the major focus. How we are perceived by others seems to top the priority list instead. Focus is placed on things like the beautification of the church buildings, official counts of church attendance, outward appearance of our physical bodies. Don't get me wrong, those things in and of themselves are not wrong. We need to have excellence in all that we do for the Lord, but when those things trump or overrule our true purpose, then we are bringing glory to ourselves rather than to God.
Check your own heart today. Why do you call yourself a Christian? Is it to walk out your true calling and purpose, or simply to look good to those around you? Do you live out and model the true characteristics of that title or do you give others reason to label you as a hypocrite? I know, it's a tough question, but each of us needs to be able to answer it, honestly.
Paul goes on to say, that if you are really a Christian or Christ follower, than your life has to change. In other words, because you have a new focus, which is Christ Jesus, you begin to think and act differently. Not because there is a list of rules that must be adhered to, but instead, you have a new mindset and you don't want to act and think like you used to when you didn't understand what it meant to be a real Christian. Your new desire is to be more and more like Christ, which in turn, drives you to tell others about what Christ has done in your life. Once you realize the fact that, "once you were dead, and now you're alive", you can't help but shout it from the rooftops, and want others to experience the same freedom and hope that you now have.
Do you still have the same zeal and excitement that you once had for serving the Lord? Take some time today to think about and honestly answer that question. If your answer is "no", then ask the Lord to show you why. And then ask Him to show what steps you may need to take to reignite the passion, love and excitement in your Christian walk.
Have a great day!