Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NKJV
Three Points on God’s View of Reconciliation
First, in verse 18, God reconciled the world to Himself by Jesus’s work on the cross. The world literally means the whole world. God judged all of man’s personal sins on the cross except for one, and he leaves that one with each person on the earth to judge for themselves. The one sin God left for man to judge, was rejection of the person of Jesus Christ. If Jesus would have died for that sin, along with all other sins, all men would be automatically saved whether they wanted to be or not. Mankind will not go to hell and eventually the Lake of Fire for the sins they committed, but for the one sin of rejection of Jesus Christ. Consequently, on the other side, no one will be kept from heaven for the sins they committed, but will be allowed to enter heaven for one reason, he or she judged the sin of rejection of Jesus and accepted Him as Lord of their personal life. But after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the world was reconciled of their personal sins in God’s sight.
Second, in verse 19, this message was given to Jesus and now it has been given to us. We are ambassadors for God, standing in the vacant place Jesus left us at His resurrection. His message of reconciliation has been given to each of us who believe on Him. Our message to the world is this, “God has reconciled the world to Himself. Now it is up to you to be personally reconciled to God by believing Jesus Christ is God and accepting Him as your Savior.”
Third, in verse 20, each person, individually, needs to be reconciled to God. The decision for mankind to be reconciled to God, was God’s alone. He decided it and executed it on His own. The decision for each person to be reconciled to God is their own. Although, I could say I was forgiven along with all mankind when Jesus rose from the dead, I still have to make it a personal decision. God received me and now I need to receive Him. God forgave me but I need to receive His forgiveness. In other words, God made the first move. He did something we could not do – forgive all our sins. He left us with the one sin we could handle, a decision to accept the work of His Son, Jesus. When we do that, redemption is complete in our lives from God’s side and ours.
Just because all your numbers come up in the Powerball Lottery does not mean it is automatically deposited into your account. You need to bring your winning ticket to the office of the Lottery commission and legally claim your winnings. Then the money will be deposited into your checking account. In other words, you can’t watch television at home, see the power balls all come up with your numbers, then sit back and declare you are rich. You have to personally go and receive your winnings. On the cross, God declared all mankind to be reconciled. It is now up to us to go to God, claim and personally accept our reconciliation. God’s part toward us is reconciliation, forgiveness of our sins. Our part toward God is repentance.
When We Are Wronged
This scenario of God and mankind found in 2 Corinthians 5 becomes our model for how we handle Christians in our daily life who commit sins against us. Like God, forgiveness toward those who have wronged us begins with us. We need to forgive them first. We have done our part and the next step is up to them to repent. Then both sides of the situation have been handled like the plan of salvation between God and fallen mankind.
It is important for those who were wronged to forgive the one who wronged them. This releases the victim from anger and thoughts of vengeance. Although the person can never totally forget the act of wrong inflicted on them, they can leave the problem in the hands of God, knowing God will repay. But restoration is totally in the hands of the one who committed the wrong. With a contrite heart toward God and the ones hurt, the person may one day in the future assume their position in life and ministry again and even rise to new heights of responsibility. The expression, “a bird with a broken wing can never fly as high,” might be true in nature but it is not true in grace. You can fly higher than you ever flown before. King David is a great example of failure and restoration. After adultery with Bathsheba and the sins surrounding it, David repented and went on to be the greatest king Israel ever had, and a standard for all kings who succeeded him. Even Jesus, announced by angels, will one day sit on the throne of His father David.
On the job, and in our churches and homes, we are taken advantage of and hurt by other Christians. Jesus was hurt by Peter and betrayed by Judas, members of his own team. Paul told us of being wronged by Alexander and at one time forsaken by all his friends. So you can see you are in good company. And, if God took care of Jesus and Paul, He will certainly take care of you.