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; 19 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. 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. – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
The verses following the declaration of new creation in 2 Corinthians 5:17 are full of the word “reconciliation”: us being reconciled to God and being given the ministry of reconciliation, God reconciling the world to himself and entrusting us with the message of reconciliation. Then comes this breathtaking sentence;
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
And, as you’re reading it, you’ve barely digested that before you see this:
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
It’s good to revisit God’s plan now and then. At first blush, it sounds a bit crazy. He desires to reconcile the world to himself, and to do that, he plans on using ambassadors to deliver his message of reconciliation. Based on the counsel of his own wisdom, with the goal of furthering his own glory, he decides to choose the most incompetent souls he can find to become his ambassadors, and, to make it even more astounding, he selects these souls from among his bitter enemies.
At the risk of sounding irreverent, this quote from Garth Algar comes to mind:
“First I’ll access the secret military spy satelite that is in geosynchronous orbit over the midwest. Then I’ll ID the limo by the vanity plate ‘MR. BIGGG’ and get his approximate position. Then I’ll reposition the transmission dish on the remote truck to 17.32 degrees east, hit WESTAR 4 over the Atlantic, bounce the signal back into the aerosphere up to COMSAT 6, beam it back to SATCOM 2 transmitter number 137 and down on the dish on the back of Mr. Big’s limo… It’s almost too easy.”
But he’s the Lord, and his ways are so much higher above my ways. His plan is working, and it is increasing his glory, and he has taken from among his enemies incompetent, misfit souls and has turned us into ambassadors. And, of course, it wasn’t easy. It took the blood of God’s beloved Son. But God believed it to be worth it!
The Plan. It’s not always pretty, but the end result will be beautiful.
As a corollary to all this, many of us need correction in our thinking. We think salvation is all about us. It’s not. Salvation is all about him reconciling, not just us, but the world to himself. Whether we like it or not – and hopefully we can see what a great honor this is! – we are ambassadors.
It is unfair for us to expect those who are not in Christ to live as if they were a new creation. However, it is not unfair to expect a changed life from people who say they are Christians! “I know no language, I believe there is none, that can express a greater or more thorough and more radical renewal, than that which is expressed in the term, ‘a new creature.’” (Spurgeon)
– David Guzik, commenting on 2 Corinthians 5:17