Only when we die to ourselves can God then work through us.
2 Corinthians 5:19-20 – That is, in Messiah, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Messiah, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Messiah’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.”
This description that Paul gives of his ministry has been debated over the years as to whether this ministry of reconciliation applied only to the apostles, or if this is a quality that all believers should demonstrate. I believe the context of the passage provides an insight into how this principle should be applied.
2 Corinthians 5:17-18 – Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Messiah and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
Paul states if anyone is in Messiah, they are part of the new creation. Therefore, anyone who has been reconciled to God through Messiah has been given us the responsibility of helping to reconcile the world to God through themselves. Certainly, the apostles were the greatest and initial examples of this, as it was necessary for God to first to reconcile all of the scattered tribes of Israel back to himself through their message of faith and hope. But then, as others who feared God also were drawn to the message of faith in Messiah, the circle of reconciliation began to widen across the known world at that time, and continues to this day.
Reconciliation is a process of peace, an adjustment of differences usually involving forgiveness and a restoration to a favorable condition. Yeshua taught that peacemakers are blessed, and that they would be called children of God (Matthew 5:9). This is THE defining characteristic of God’s children. In Jewish tradition based on this ancient concept, this is something still hoped for in a future time.
Tikkun means to repair or improve. Olam means the entire world. In Jewish teachings, any activity that improves the world, bringing it closer to the harmonious state for which it was created is considered Tikkun Olam.Chabad.org, “Tikkun Olam“
While Jews today view this process of repairing or restoring as something that will ultimately lead to a harmonious whole, Paul implies that God already reconciled the world through Messiah, and now it is up to his children to champion the cause to become evident in this reality.
Since God was spiritually reconciling the world to himself through Messiah, it makes sense that his children would also do the same in its current physical state. This is possible only when we recognize that we are no longer allowed to view others from our own limited perspective, but from the perspective of God.
2 Corinthians 5:16 – From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Messiah from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way.
We are to view others from a spiritual perspective, in the same way we now know Messiah. We don’t know Yeshua in the same way today as if we were to see him teaching in the streets. He has been exalted to a position of honor and authority at the right hand of God in heavenly places; this is how we relate to him today. Paul says we need to view others in a similar way: from an eternal and spiritual perspective, not from a fleshly one. When we do this, we are then given the ability to look beyond their fleshly resistance or aggression toward God and toward us. We can begin to love them as God does: as a dear creation of his whom he desires to draw to himself.
2 Corinthians 5:15 – And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.
But this process involves us dying to ourselves in order to see the spiritual reality behind who they appear to be. Only then can we truly become Messiah’s ambassadors, seeing others in the same way that God does, and allowing him to work through us in continuing to reconcile the world to himself. When this happens among his people all around the world, God becomes “all in all,” and the kingdoms of this world then become his.
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