The Word For The Hour
A daily devotion for September 14th
18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. 2For he says,
"In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.
That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).
This is the message above all else, that the world needs to know. The problem with people everywhere is they have no security, no sense of acceptance, and no sense of worth. Most people have a poor self-image--even the blustering people who try to portray that they are self-sufficient. Deep inside they know their actions are a cover-up; they know they do not really feel as confident as they would lead others to believe. They are often scared and frustrated. They have to pretend that they are able to handle everything, but at the end of the day they know they did not.
The reason people lack security is because they feel an alienation, an estrangement, from God. They live in a universe they obviously know does not belong to them. They did not make it; they do not run it. This whole world was functioning long before you and I showed up on it. People know that; therefore, they feel uneasy. Estrangement and alienation are the supreme problems of our day.
This message addresses the concern that we are lost, we are alienated, and we are cut off from the God who runs everything. This is a message, therefore, that strikes home to human hearts everywhere. It does not make any difference what color your skin is, what your background is, or how you grew up. You can say this to a businessperson on Wall Street; you can say it to a craftsperson, a plumber, a doctor, a lawyer, or to a member of any occupation. They all need this universal word of reconciliation sent to the world.
A characteristic of this message is that it does not talk about the judgment of God over sin. When I graduated from seminary, I came to my occupation as a preacher with the idea that my job was to make people aware of their sin and to tell them of the judgment of God upon evil. I was brought up in a theological generation that was taught that you have to scare people before they will become Christians--to make them believe they are going to hell, so that when they see the flames burning beneath them, when they feel the singeing of their hair, then they will repent of their evil.
Then I began to learn from verses like this. I saw from the approaches of the apostles and the Lord Himself that that is not the message. (Ultimately you may have to warn people of coming judgment if they refuse this message of grace, but that is not where you start.) This is a message where God is saying,
We do not need to talk about judgment. I've taken care of that.
I learned after a few years that all I need to do is go to people, taking for granted that they are hurting inside from their sins, just as I was hurting from my sins, and talk about a God who understands that, who wants to relieve them from that hurt and has done something about it. Therefore, He was not ready to throw me into hell; He was opening His arms and inviting me to come to a loving Father and be restored. That is the message.
Lord, thank You that You have entrusted me with this message of reconciliation. Make me sensitive to Your Spirit that I might share it with those whom You have prepared.
Life Application: What is God's message of reconciliation to our deep-seated sense of alienation and estrangement from Him? Are we carriers of that message?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.