Today's Lectionary Text
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!
All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” God caused the one who didn’t know sin to be sin for our sake so that through him we could become the righteousness of God.
In this passage, Paul speaks of the new nature and a new role we have in Christ. As made-new citizens of God’s kingdom, we become ambassadors of God’s reconciliation. We go into the foreign kingdom of this world and proclaim God’s love, forgiveness and terms of peace.
Then Paul, in a twist, calls us who are ambassadors of reconciliation to be reconciled to God ourselves. This makes it clear that it is not enough to proclaim to others how they may have a renewed relationship with God. We who proclaim this to others must ourselves continue to seek a renewed relationship with God.
This ever-renewing relationship with God of necessity includes renewing relationships with one another. Just as love for God is inextricably intertwined with love for others, so a renewed relationship with God is inextricably intertwined with renewing our relationships with those from whom we have become estranged. It is appropriate that we consider how this message applies to us during this difficult time in our denomination. What does renewing our relationships with one another require of us?
In this season we are called to observe a holy Lent “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God's Holy Word.” In this Lenten season I desire reconciliation and renewed relationship where we have become estranged from one another. In furtherance of self-denial, I don’t look to how others can “make things right” with me. Instead, by self-examination and repentance, I seek God’s wisdom in how I may put aside my anger, bitterness and intransigence and replace it with love and a desire for the unity Christ desired for us, that is, what steps I can take to renew my relationships with others. I pray for God’s strength to carry out this work of the heart and I commit myself to this holy renewal of my relationship with God and with those from whom I have become estranged. I invite you, therefore, sisters and brothers, to observe a time of holy renewal of your relationship with God and with those from whom you have become estranged as well.
Ewing UM-PC(USA), Orchard UMC, Page UMC
Ewing, Orchard and Page Nebraska
Prayer for Reflection
God of reconciliation, your love was shown in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. As you loved us, forgave us and brought us into new relationship with you, so I pray you give us wisdom, strength and tenderness of heart, that we may love on another, forgive and seek forgiveness from one another, deny ourselves and pursue the interests of one another, and renew our commitment to and relationship with one another so we may be one as you are one; through the Creator, the Redeemer and the Giver of Life, one God evermore. Amen.
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