Faithful Participants in God’s Mission – 1 LSB #’s 380, 337, 922
Text – 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
We Are Ambassadors for Christ
This is the first week of our three-week stewardship emphasis Faithful Participants in God’s Mission. The sermon text leads us to see how God can enable our revival in the Holy Spirit as we become Faithful Participants in God’s Mission. The text is 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.
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 & gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, & 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.
Give your attention to that Word of God. Hear the promise of the Savior’s love. You may rejoice that you are invited to be part of sharing Christ’s love to others. In that text, St. Paul uses the word reconcile again & again. Did you notice the number of times the word shows up in the four verses of 17-20?
Reconcile or reconciliation is used five times: “Who through Christ reconciled us to Himself; gave us the ministry of reconciliation… God was reconciling the world to Himself. …entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. …we implore you on behalf of Christ be reconciled to God.”
Reconciliation recognizes that an estrangement has happened. We have a need to be reconciled to God. Because of sin an estrangement between God & mankind has occurred. The conflict between us & other people in this world is real & it’s because of sin. We can’t reconcile ourselves because we don’t have the ability or the power to reconcile.
When we recognize that we have hurt & disappointed God, have been an embarrassment to our Creator, we can’t rewind the clock. We don’t have the power to make things right again. We can envision that there is a fracture in the ground. The ground becomes separated with too much distance between us. We can’t reach across the fracture. We are on one side. God is on the other side. There are irreconcilable differences between us & God. He is perfect, & we are not. He is righteous. We are unrighteous.
Our Creator is the Author of time. We are the ones who misuse time. He is the One Who has designed us to work. We are the ones who work against it. God has created us in our blood & every fiber of our being. We are the ones who shed blood. Reconciliation on our own is impossible because we are unable to reach across the great divide.
God wants us to have loving relationships with Him & with others. As He created the world, God made Adam & Eve one flesh, in union with each other & with Him. Their perfect, friendly, loving relationships were very good. They were perfectly united hand in hand. No breaks, no fractures. Everything was in harmony & complete unity.
In Genesis 3, Moses recorded that this perfect unity did not last. Adam & Eve ate of the forbidden tree & sin entered the creation. Instead of serving God, Who loved & cared for them, instead of trusting the truth of the Creator, they made themselves more important than Yahweh. With pride & arrogance, they disobeyed God’s loving instructions.
St. Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie & worshiped & served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (1:25 ESV) In this moment of pride, Adam & Eve’s sin changed relationships. Instead of being on friendly terms with God, they began to see Him with shame & fear.
When God walked in the garden in the cool of the day, they hid. They turned away from their Creator who sought them out. Shame & fear are poison to relationships. That poison kills. It destroyed the relationship we still want to imagine having with God. It destroyed the relationship between Adam & Eve’s sons Cain & Abel. Cain killed his brother because of the shame that his offering was not received with the same favor as the offering of Abel. The poison of sin & shame is something you & I cannot overcome. We don’t have the ability to bring healing & reconciliation into our relationship with the Lord.
The wages of sin is death. What we deserve for failing to love God, what we deserve when we fail to love others, is for God to stop loving us. The absence of God’s love is the hell & the eternity of being separated from anything kind or good. What hope do you have that your relationship with God is not dead?
Our family background has the blood of Adam. We are sons & daughters of Adam. All of our good works have fallen short of the glory of God. Psalm 14, 53 & Romans 3 tell us, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
We are a people of fractured relationships. Some differences can be reconciled, but the irreconcilable kind of differences lead to no good end. The righteousness of God & the unrighteousness of our sin do not blend, do not mix, do not reconcile.
The miracle of Jesus is that in Him the righteousness of God becomes present in the flesh even in this unrighteous world. Our Savior is the Son of God, Jesus, who was sent into this world to reconcile us to the heavenly Father. Jesus died for all people & broke the chains of sin for all people. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.
Yes, the wages of sin is death, but He became our death. Jesus, the 2nd Adam, died for the sin of the 1st Adam. He died for your sin, for my sin, for the sin of the whole world. The sinful person who is unreconcilable to God has found an advocate in the One who is sinless – Jesus Christ. His death shattered the chains of death. Jesus Christ is your reconciliation. He is your peace with death. He is the one who reconnects creation to Creator. That good news does not stop with Christ’s death & resurrection. Everyone who has faith in Jesus has been given a new life. They are a new creation. Through baptism, we are washed into the name of Jesus, into His righteousness, into the promises of God.
In Baptism, sinners are connected to the resurrection of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. In baptism we enter the kingdom of the living, the kingdom of the resurrection. By His grace our relationship with God is not dead. By the gracious death & resurrection of Jesus Christ we are now alive as a new creation.
Mankind had ruined our relationship with God through sin, shame & fear. Rather than taking away His love from us, Jesus revealed the love of God by sacrificing His life on the cross. It is fitting we begin this sermon series with the theme for this particular sermon, “We are Ambassadors for Christ.”
Our message from God to the world is that our hope is not dead because Jesus lives. God implores us to share that gospel message of reconciliation. We are Christ’s ambassadors. God makes His appeal through us. Though we are sinners, God sees us in His righteousness. He forgives, restores & uses each one of us to bring His healing to other sinners.
Each of us has been called, gathered, enlightened & sanctified by the Holy Spirit to be an ambassador for Christ. No one is too young or too old, too educated or too illiterate to be an ambassador of the good news.
Of ourselves, we’d fall flat on our face in any role as ambassador. Trusting in our own abilities to bring the reconciliation of God, everyone would remain dead in sins & trespasses. Fortunately, we are not on our own. We are redeemed in Christ & used by God to share His love with those who are still lost. With God’s strength & presence, we walk in the good works He prepares in advance for us to do. Sharing the good news of God’s love in His Son Jesus Christ, is the greatest act of stewardship that the Holy Spirit is working to accomplish through you & through me. Thank God that He gives us the honor of being participants in His mission to bring eternal life into the hearts of so many harassed & helpless people. Amen.
The One whom angels tended comes near, a child, to serve; thus God, the judge offended, bears all our sins deserve. The guilty need not cower, for God has reconciled through His redemptive power all those who trust this child. God dwells with us in darkness & makes the night as day; yet we resist the brightness & turn from God away. But grace does not forsake us, however far we run. God claims us still as children through Mary’s infant son. Amen. LSB 337:2, 5.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet