For the Love of God
2 Corinthians 5:6-19
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
The radio Interviewer could not believe it. This young woman she was interviewing had won a three week trip around the world, but had given up this chance of a lifetime. She gave it up to be near to a friend who was about to go through major surgery.
“Surely your friend would have understood how special this opportunity was?”. “Surely there were other people who could have supported her through her surgery so you could go?”, says the interviewer.
Eventually, seeing that she was not going to be able to get out of this by saying nothing. She blurted out, “OK. This is none of your business, but I will tell you why I gave this good thing up. You will think I am crazy, but so be it…”.
“It was because of what this friend of mine did for me a few years ago. I was addicted to heavy substance abuse. I was spiralling down. My family couldn’t handle it and threw me out.
My friend was the only person who looked after me. She sat up all night, again and again. She talked me through it. She mopped me down when I threw up. She changed my clothes, she took me to hospital, she talked to the doctors and made sure I was getting through it all. She helped me with the court case. She helped me get a job. She loved me. Now that she is sick herself, it is the very least I can do for her after how she loved me.
As Paul speaks to his people in Corinth he speaks of this love.
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, … 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Can you hear Paul?
“You really want to know why I am uninterested in looking good, smelling good, being good, being seen to be good, speaking with charisma and eloquence, performing powerful miracles, having endless light chit-chat about unimportant things; why I am blunt, awkward, seemingly strange, indecisive, not easy to understand? It is because he loved me, and I know he loves you”.
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
38 … neither death nor life, … [nothing]shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-38)
13 If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
To the Corinthians (and us) Paul must seem to be ‘out of his mind’! As if he was living ‘on another planet’! Paul says he sort of is! It is not another planet but another creation, another new creation, another way to be human now shaped by the forgiving love of the crucified and resurrected human, Jesus, Son of God.
8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
In the suffering and the criticism of life he would rather be at peace, rest and joy in the promised new Jerusalem which is our future in Jesus. But, in God’s wisdom, he remains a loved sent one. That is the “planet” in which he lives on this planet.
And the goal of living in this new creation ‘planet’?
9 … .we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
Living a life pleasing to the Lord on daily basis is the goal of our lives. Why?
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Sounds scary. It will be. We will all give an account of how we lived in the new love we constantly were given.
But Paul is not saying our behaviour – good or bad, determines our status, our place, our membership in the new creation.
We please our Saviour because we have been saved by the Saviour.
We please him not to earn his pleasure but because we have his pleasure.
We ‘fear the Lord’ before the judgement seat not as a cringing terror as we stand before an uncaring and unknowing tyrant. We honour, respect and are very aware that we are accountable to this Jesus who is on the throne.
Our “fear’ is a genuine awe and awareness of complete inadequacy before a God who knows human frailty and shame, and yet loves us with a love that gives up everything for us.
Paul says so beautifully in Romans 8:1: There is now no condemnation (by God the judge) for those who are in Christ. And yet, here he knows too that there is an accountability for how we live in his love. How we live this new gift of new life does matter to God, for two reasons
- It affects our relationship with him who loves us.
- We affect his relationship with other people whom he also loves.
9 … we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
11 Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.
We please him and persuade others. That is our shape, the umbrella under which all our relationships and roles and challenges and wins are lived:
Being church in this community is all about please Jesus and persuade friends.
We speak we do, we serve, we love, we withhold harsh judgement, we try to forgive, we work for true peace between people, we apologise, we offer words of forgiveness when others are apologising to us …
And we just have to.
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again
Of course we can be very ‘uncompelled’ at times. We can live totally for ourselves. That is our natural broken state as fragile clay pots.
With these fragile bones I can believe wrongly that I am not accountable to Jesus for how I go about our life. I can wrongly believe that what I do or don’t do and say does not really matter because I will ‘go to heaven when we die’, as if that is my only life’s goal.
I can leave the peacemaking to others and hold those grudges, try a little pay back, gain the upper hand, win the argument, blame everyone else for how bad they are, believing that I am so very good.
I can even believe that I really do need to earn God’s pleasure and favour – that I have to do the right thing and achieve a certain moral perfection to ensure that God protects me, blesses me and mine, keeps me safe and etc….
All untrue, thank the Lord!
14 For Christ’s love compels us….”.
My disordered self-orientated loves do not compel me. Jesus’ LOVE compels me. ‘One died for all’. I have died in my baptism and risen to live. It keeps happening on a daily basis. Dying and rising in Jesus. New every morning…..
Jesus is like that woman in the interview. He has given up his heavenly trip of a lifetime to enter our trip from hell, so we don’t have to suffer that.
Even in immense suffering, Jesus’ forgiveness transforms people. We saw it last year …
Do you remember just before COVID hit, a terrible thing happened in Sydney where four young children were killed by a man driving an out-of-control ute?
Eight-year-old Sienna Abdallah was killed alongside siblings Angelina, 12, and Antony, 13, and their cousin Veronique Sakr, 13, when Samuel William Davidson’s ute mounted the kerb.
The siblings’ parents, Danny and Leila Abdallah, spoke following the announcement of an impending guilty plea.
“We welcome the plea, the guilty plea, ….,” Danny said.
“I don’t want anger, bitterness and revenge in my household today.”
The family have remarkably forgiven Davidson, drawing on their faith for strength throughout the ordeal.
“Remarkable”, we say. Is it? Sadly, forgiveness is probably quite remarkable so often.
But not here in this word or in this church. Forgiveness is our ‘normal’: quite unremarkable in God’s new creation community. Forgiveness is just way we roll.
“I can’t do it, Pastor!”, I hear you say. No, YOU can’t.
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
Live to please him, Friend. Not to earn him or get stuff from him, but just to enjoy him.
Live to persuade others of this love in this man, this Son of God.
Why? You know it in your bones:
Because Jesus “loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Might be time to stop looking for ‘the trip of a lifetime’ and simply rest in your Saviour’s calling for this time.
It is because he loved you, and you know he loves them”.