On a summer night in 1967, I prayed a simple prayer: “God you can have my life.” God responded to my brief prayer and I became a new person.
Before that prayer, I resisted every invitation to attend church. After the prayer, I was present every time the church doors were open.
I was very self-centered before speaking those six words to God. Afterward, God began to remove layer after layer of self-centered attitudes and actions from me. Sadly, there is more work to be done in that area more than 50 years later.
The best word to describe me before the prayer was “lost.” My life was aimless and without purpose. It was as if I lived in a fog that prevented me from understanding the meaning and purpose of life.
After the prayer, the word that described me was “found.” God found me and I found the reason for living.
Paul described my experience and that of millions of other people.
— 2 Corinthians 5.17 – So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; look, new things have come into being!
I was mowing the grass and praying the afternoon when God called me to enter the ministry of reconciliation.
It was the summer of 1968. I would have been hard-pressed to define “reconciliation,” and little did I know that the ministry of reconciliation would be my job description for 50-plus years.
— 2 Corinthians 5.18-19 – 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.
I love the thought that God defeats his enemies by making them his friends. That is the meaning of reconciliation.
On the cross, Jesus absorbed the hurt caused by human sin, so he could forgive us and enter into a personal relationship with us.
God has given us the “message of reconciliation.” He has done all of the work and it is our privilege to announce the fact of God’s amazing love.
When people hear the message and respond to it in faith, they are reconciled to God and become new creations.
The clergy is not the only ones who have the joyous job of proclaiming the good news of reconciliation. God intended all of his followers to have this opportunity.
Ambassadors for Christ
One of my favorite gospel songs is by the Williams Brothers. The chorus reveals the awesome opportunity every Christian is given.
I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody,
About somebody, who can save anybody.
The majority of Jesus’ followers are nameless and faceless in the world. To God we are ambassadors.
— 2 Corinthians 5.20-21 – 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.
For our sake God made the one who knew no sin to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As ambassadors, we represent God and his Son, who took our sin in his body and gave us his righteousness in return.
A few days ago, I wrote about a seminary president in Ukraine. He has risked his life on a daily basis to bring food and medicine to people in harm’s way.
At the last count, he helped evacuate over 250 people to safety. He serves communion to the soldiers who are defending their country.
Boundaries between denominations have been dropped in Ukraine during the war. People who make up the various expressions of the church are serving people in need both in Ukraine and in other European countries.
These servants of Christ are his ambassadors, bringing a message of God’s love to people who are living in the greatest crisis of their lives.
I believe many will be reconciled to Christ, because of God’s love and their service on his behalf.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube. The videos are usually different from what I write in my blog, because of the way that Rudy and I approach the discussion. The videos can be found on the Bob Spradling channel.
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