Compelled, By What? – 2 Corinthians 5
“For Christ’s love compels us,” Paul writes.
To which I must confess reluctantly, “Not always.”
(However I don’t recommend that for your church’s next responsive reading.)
But if I’m honest, there are times when I am compelled by something very different than Christ’s love. Selfishness, for one. (That hurts just writing it.) Comfort, for another. And then there’s pride, self justification and anger.
So maybe I am writing today’s devotional just for me.
However I am guessing that from time to time, you too are motivated by a few other things than Christ’s love. Which is why I am drawn to take us once more to this well known verse.
And this time, I’ll complete it.
For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. (2 Corinthians 5:14)
Can I just say that I am so glad Paul doesn’t end there? Because there’s a whole lot of death in that sentence. However, put together with the next verse, the death he speaks about—His and ours—takes on new meaning.
And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and was raised again (verse 15, emphasis mine.)
The thing is, the resurrected life can’t happen without death. And if you’re like me, it’s not just about dying once, but every single day. Death to selfishness. Death to comfort. Death to pride and anger. Even Death to how I am justified to react.
But it’s the bold part that carries my hope. The God we are living for was raised again. He lives! So that means we aren’t on our own in this endeavor.
And what does this endeavor include? Paul tells us in the next verse.
From now on, we regard no one from a worldly point of view (verse 16a.)
Does that mean seeing people who try to break me as being broken?
But what the person who steals the parking place I was waiting for?
The guy who crashes into my parked car and doesn’t leave a note?
The neighbor who always parks in front of my garage making it impossible to get out?
Or hardest of all, the woman who bore the child I am called to raise, who is still mom #1— even though she lives thousands of miles away, leaving the nitty-gritty parts of child rearing to me?
Yes. All of them. (I’m guessing you have your own list of “thems.”)
Paul goes on to say the reason we can do that is because we have each become “a new creation.” So it’s really not about us anymore. And he makes it clear that “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.“
So does that mean tolerating “them” isn’t enough? We have to take it even further and be reconcilers on their behalf?
Too much. I can’t.
Remember that the Living God is… living. He is with us to give us the impetus and strength we need. And the way He starts is by nudging us with words that prick our hearts and ignite our souls. Words we find toward the end of this passage:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us—so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (verse 21, emphasis mine.)
If the sinless one can take on our sin,
Can we who are sinful—and forgiven—help bear the weight of sin in others?
That’s the question Paul puts before us today. The only way to answer him is with our lives.
Laurie Short (formerly Polich) is a speaker, associate pastor, and author of fourteen books for students and youth workers. This year, she’s releasing her first non youth ministry book, called Finding Faith in the Dark (Zondervan, 2014.) The subtitle is “When the Story of your life takes a turn you didn’t plan,” which is a pretty good description of Laurie’s life. Single for 48 years, Laurie married and became a mom in 2009. (Her stepson was six when she married). Her experience with singleness, marriage and (now) motherhood allows her to speak to women on a variety of levels.
Laurie is passionate about God’s word, and hopes this site will help women uncover new insights from familiar (and not so familiar) passages of Scripture. She has a Masters from Fuller Seminary, works part time at Ocean Hills Covenant Church, and balances the rest of her time as an author, speaker, wife and mom. (Don’t all women have five jobs?) LauriePolich.com.