Last week we begin to dive into how Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians 5:13-21 how the gospel fuels our MOTIVATION for sacrificial living. He has shown us how the gospel gives us a MEASURE for our sacrifice. But the gospel also gives us a MISSION in our sacrifice—the ministry of reconciliation .
A BIBLICAL VISION FOR GENEROSITY
Paul says that God gave the church “the ministry of reconciliation” Paul paints this powerful vision of the church when it’s mission is fueled by generosity. Paul writes in verse 18, 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 the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
We always risk missing how profound this is. The church is given a mission so vital that nothing else should stand in its way: reconciling people to God. Pointing people to Christ.
Every other ministry, however powerful and necessary, fails if it is divorced from this central mission. As a church, we strive to meet physical and social needs. After all, we are Christ’s ambassadors, which means we represent him in every sphere of life. But our primary focus is—and always must be—reconciling people to God. Pointing people to Jesus Christ. The local church is God’s Plan A.
Seeing our ministry this way means that we see people as Paul did. As he said in verse 16, We regard no one according to the flesh any longer. Paul saw people in only two categories: reconciled to God or not. The normal categories of rich or poor, white or black, Republican or Democrat, educated or blue-collar, simply do not apply. There are only those who know Christ and those who don’t.
In 1912, when the Titanic sank, news of who had survived and who hadn’t came back piecemeal. To keep track of the survivors for the families, a gigantic chalkboard was set up in downtown London, with two columns—“saved” and “lost.” As news trickled in, names would be written in one of the two columns. Going on to that ship, it may have mattered what class of society a person was from. But on that day, all that mattered was which side of the ledger your name was on. Are you “lost” or “saved.”
That’s how Paul saw the world. And if you believe the gospel, you can never see others the same way again. The gospel gives us a MISSION in our sacrifice—the ministry of reconciliation. The ministry of reconciliation always requires of us to pour out our lives in generosity-giving deeply and sacrificially of our time, talent and treasures.
A GOSPEL RESPONSE TO GENEROSITY
Personally engage in the mission of the gospel. Ask God to give you three names of people who need to know the saving grace of God. Commit to doing three things for those three people:
- INTERCEDE - pray for their salvation. Pray for a specific need that you know that have. You may even want to ask them how you can be in prayer for them.
- INVEST - serve them in some simple way. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Listen to their story.
- INVITE - invite them to your home. Share a meal with them. Invite to come to church with you. Share the gospel with them and invite them to experience the gift of God’s saving grace.
A GOSPEL PRAYER FOR GENEROSITY
Heavenly Father, give me your heart for the lost in my community. Give me opportunities to invest in their lives. Give me a boldness to invite them into my life and invest in them relationally. Use me as a vessel in which you pour you saving grace through my life to transforms another person’s life by your grace. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.