Reading Time: 5 Minutes
I listened to an interview this week between David Axelrod and Tim Alberta. Axelrod is a political commentator and Alberta is a journalist.
At the beginning of an interview that was largely about politics, Alberta told how his father became a follower of Jesus and later served as a pastor in Michigan.
Both of his parents were successful in business, but had no religious background at all. His mother was successful in broadcasting and his father was climbing the ranks of investment banking when their lives took a dramatic turn.
Alberta’s father grew up in a violent and dysfunctional family. Though he was a young very promising banker, he felt empty and in despair.
To the surprise of his family he attended church at the invitation of his niece. He developed a friendship with the pastor and later became a follower of Jesus.
His conversion was not well received by his wife and the rest of the family. One day, his wife phoned him to tell him that she, too, had accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior.
A church group was going door-to-door. When they came to her home, they helped her receive Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior.
Soon, the couple left banking and broadcasting, attended seminary, and Alberta’s father became the founder and thirty-year pastor of a significant church in Michigan.
The story of Tim Alberta’s father and mother is one that is told around the world every day. The love of Jesus transforms despair into hope and emptiness into meaningfulness.
Paul described the process when he said, “For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.
“And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” (2 Corinthians 5.14-15).
Alberta’s parents left a life that was lived for themselves and began living for Jesus.
In turning away from self-centered desires, they found fullness of life by living for Jesus and his purpose for the world.
Again, this is a story that is repeated on a daily basis around the world to the glory of God.
Greg, Eddie, and Ronnie lived on the other end of the economic spectrum from Tim Alberta’s parents. They grew up on Warren Street, a place in DeRidder Louisiana known for poverty.
They had something in common with Alberta’s father. The became followers of Jesus and two out of the three became pastors.
Paul explained how this works. He wrote, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5.17).
Despite education, opportunity, economics or race, when people begin following Jesus change comes. In fact, everything becomes new.
The absolute joy of ministry is the opportunity to see how Jesus transforms people into new creations.
Truly Paul was right when he wrote, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
“That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Corinthians 5.18-19).
No doubt, every joyful life-changing experience with Jesus is from God.
The key word in these verses is “reconciled” or “reconciliation.” It refers to the change that Jesus has accomplished for humans.
Because of his reconciling work on the cross, we are changed from enemies to friends of God.
However, the change does not stop with our relationship with God. We are also entrusted by God to help other people change in their relationship to Jesus.
What would have happened if the niece hadn’t invited Tim Alberta’s father to come to church with her? What would have happened if the church group hadn’t knocked on Alberta’s mother’s door?
What would have happened if Greg, Eddie and Ronnie hadn’t heard the message of God’s redeeming love in Louisiana?
The joy and responsibility we have is to help other people change their relationship with God through the work of Jesus Christ.
Ambassadors for Christ
I wonder how many people have become followers of Jesus because of Tim Alberta’s father and mother? What has been the influence of Greg, Eddie and Ronnie?
Paul assigned a name for people who have been changed by the love of Jesus and his reconciling power. He says that we are ambassadors for God.
“So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5.20).
To be an investment banker on Wall Street is a high achievement. To work for ABC in the news department is another significant accomplishment.
However, no business responsibility can compare to being an ambassador for God.
Ronnie, Eddie and Greg share one thing in common with Pastor and Mrs. Alberta. They are all ambassadors for God.
They speak for God. They appeal to people, asking them to receive the gift of a lifetime – “Be reconciled to God.”
This is everyone’s opportunity. Let’s appreciate what the love of God has done for us and use our influence to help others and glory our Lord and Savior.
May We Pray for You?
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