II Corinthians 5:17-21
Rev. Linda A. Richard

     Recently, I’ve been noticing a new advertisement on the TV Cable Channels. It begins by saying: “Wouldn’t you love an exciting new career that could change your whole life?” According to this advertisement, all that you need to do to have a totally “ new “ and “exciting” life is to launch a career selling Pre-Paid Telephone Cards. The ads make it clear that this career opportunity requires no direct sales on your part. You can be the wholesale distributor in your area!
     Now I enjoy talking on the telephone a lot! And as a Pastor, I sometimes need to make long distance calls from hospitals or meetings. In addition, most of my family and closest friends live far enough away that I frequently call long distance to keep in touch. So I appreciate having a credit card for phone calls. In fact, I can’ t remember the last time my telephone bill was less than $100! Still, I must admit that I have serious doubts about the “totally fulfilling and life-changing abilities” of selling pre-paid phone cards, whether at the wholesale or retail level. But I do know something that we can do to change our lives and the lives of others in a dramatic way!

(II Corinthians 5:17-21)
17) So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
18) All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
19) 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.
20) 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.
21) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

     In II Corinthians 5: 17-21, the Apostle Paul says that if anyone is” in Christ” that person is a new creation. Everything old has passed away...everything has become new. The phrase “in Christ”
sounds a bit strange to us, and we need to take a moment to understand what it means. Paul believes that in Jesus Christ , God actually came to us in human form. Since God was “ in Christ,” Paul says that we are “ in Christ” when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, or in other words, become a Christian. We can probably understand this concept better if we think of the term “in the Body of Christ” or” in the Family of God.” And we might say the same thing in a slightly different way by saying” If Christ is in us...” we become totally new persons through the working of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ can change any life!
     In this passage Paul also says that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.” and that “God has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
     What does it mean to be reconciled? Just what is the basis for our ministry of reconciliation? Actually the word reconcile has several meanings! For instance, it’s time for my husband or me to balance our check-book again. We call such balancing of the check-book “reconciling” the check-book. When it comes to our finances, reconciling means we check for mistakes, correct them (if we can!) and come up with a new, accurate balance which reflects the real state of our funds in that particular account.
     But we also use the word “reconcile” to indicate a process of repairing broken relationships between two or more people, or between a person and God. For instance, whenever a couple who was separated or divorced decides to go back together, we call that “reconciliation.” Actually, repairing a relationship isn’t all that different from balancing our check-book! When we repair a broken relationship, we have identified a problem or mistake, we have made an effort to correct it, and we have achieved a new balance which allows us to reestablish that relationship.
Paul then goes on to say that God made it possible for us to repair our relationships with others when God took the initiative to repair our relationship to Him by sending His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus restored our relationship to God by suffering the consequences of our mistakes for us. With Jesus Christ, God has settled His account with us. According to II Corinthians 5, it’s up to us to share that gift of reconciliation with others!
      How is it that we become a totally new person because of our faith in Jesus Christ? Well in some ways it works like typing a manuscript on a computer or Word Processor. It used to be that the only way I could correct my mistakes after I had typed something was to use Liquid Paper. But there are two problems with Liquid Paper! Either it didn’t cover the mistake completely, or it covered so completely that I was left with a big white GLOB where I needed to type again. Thus whenever I tried to correct a mistake the correction stuck out like a flashing light saying: “Linda made a mistake...Linda made a mistake!” Liquid paper only partially covers our mistakes and then alerts everyone to the fact that a correction has been made! On the other hand, with my computer, the word-processing feature allows me to completely delete my mistakes and start all over again . I can remove one letter, one word, or even as much as an entire document. Jesus Christ does not merely make corrections in our life by using a type of Liquid Paper to cover up our sins! Instead, He can completely delete those sins from our lives, if we will allow Him into our hearts! And Jesus works even better than my computer! The computer sends my mistakes to the recycle bin if I delete a large item such as a document. I can always retrieve it if I decide I want it back after all. Sometimes we act as though we have only moved our sins to a recycle bin. Later on we retrieve them and worry about them and feel guilty all over again. But Jesus offers a “Complete Delete” feature for our sins! They’re totally, absolutely gone forever! No need to recycle them. Our guilt and pain can be gone!
      In John 10:10b, Jesus says: “I came that they might have life, and that abundantly.” And unlike a career in selling telephone cards, Jesus can deliver on the promise to make your life and my life worthwhile.
      If you want to really change your whole life, trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is a lot more fulfilling than selling pre-paid phone cards!
      If you want to get excited about a new career in “marketing”, why don’t you share the good news of God’s Love in Jesus Christ with a neighbor/and/or friend this week?

All Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers c1990.