17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 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. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 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)
Paul packs so much into these few verses that it’s a little overwhelming to try and tackle it all so let me just make a few observations on how this all relates to evangelism. Continue reading Ministers of Reconciliation
This year has been a trying one for me, mostly because I was more unhappy at work than I have ever been. Men find meaning and fulfillment in work (sometimes to unhealthy and unbiblical extents), and no longer being able to find it in what I was doing was a strike at the core of my identity. Because of this I was contemplating a new career, something that is stressful enough when you’re 19, but is even more so at 29, with a wife and son to support, and a 1/2 finished master’s program that would be wasted with the change. That combined with busyness of family life and ministry at church left me in a constant state of worry, agitation and stress.
One of the Scripture passages that I’ve always used to help me during such times is Philippians 4:6-7:
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I can still remember sitting outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow repeating those verses over and over in my head while my wife (then, fiancee) was being interviewed for a visa to come to the United States. And again in the DHS offices in Newark as we waited for her citizenship test and interview. Or a few weeks ago in Louisiana as we awaited news on our son, who had been taken to the hospital in New Jersey. Continue reading Be Reasonable
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
This passage has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s a relatively well-known passage for sure, but lately it just seems to pop up at random moments keeping it in the forefront of my mind.
I get in the car to go to work, put my iPod on shuffle, and Shane & Shane’s musical version starts playing. I sit down at home, pick up a book, and read (in David Platt’s Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream) that “God … delights in exalting our inability.”
Almost everywhere I look over the past few weeks, I keep seeing reminders of and references to 2 Corinthians 12. Continue reading Strength in Weakness
The thing that stands out to me in 2 Corinthians 4 is verse 13: “But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,’ we also believe, therefore we also speak”. This to me encompasses the motivation to evangelize, be involved in missions, and any other effort to tell others about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The effect of grace on our lives, the change brought about by faith, should be so great that we are naturally inclined to tell others about it. We believe, therefore we speak. The more I delve into the Scriptures, the more I come to the realization that the ordinances and purposes of our faith (baptism, communion, prayer, missions, evangelism, worship, etc.) are not tasks to be fulfilled, but rather responses to what God has already done for us. They should be the natural inclination of a spirit that has been saved from the pit of destruction and the miry clay (Psalm 40:2). We tend to treat these things as a check list that we robotically complete and then check off so as to say to God, “See, I’ve done all that You have asked of me.” The correct mindset, however, is not that we have to do these things, but that we want to do them. They are responses to the awesome works that God has done, both generally for all mankind (Creation, the redemptive work of Christ), and specifically in my life (my personal salvation and sanctification). “We also believe, therefore we also speak.” Continue reading Motivated Evangelism