- The Explore the Bible lesson for May 13 focuses on 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; 6:1-2.
This lesson’s focus on reconciliation offers the conversation we have been hoping for as we have been journeying through Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. If reconciliation means to restore a broken relationship, then we as readers are all the more ready to see such healing in these words.
In general, we tend to hope for reconciliation. In movies, stories and books, we hope for things to be made right so that a “happily ever after” will close out the narrative. When this does not happen, we either are left frustrated or hoping for a sequel to follow in the near future.
Ask your group: How have you experienced broken relationships? How have you experienced reconciliation? It is important for us to know that both brokenness and healing are not only possible, but even more they are proven. Transformation because of Jesus may be the ultimate example for us on this subject.
Reborn (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
To witness reconciliation, we have to look through a new lens according to verse 16. To look through worldly or “flesh” eyes causes us to see only from our broken viewpoint. On the other hand, seeing from God’s point of view allows us to see the potential for newness.
With the salvation of God being possible because of Jesus, each person must be seen as a potential “rescue” and never as a hopeless case. Do we ever look at people as unable to be rescued? Paul’s words challenge us to embrace the potential for newness in human lives.
To be new, there must be a “rebirth” or a “spiritual birth,” when the person receives God’s gift of salvation. This is just the beginning, but we see how quickly a new life is separated from an old past. The point of reconciliation is that being reborn causes us to be brought back into relationship with God.
Reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)
Do not move too quickly past the statement, “All this is from God.” The death of oldness and the birth of newness are made possible by God alone. No one else can accomplish this. Let that sink in as you consider how the only one who could reconcile broken humans to God was God himself.
Once we are believers, we take on the identity and the desires of God. Since his desire is to reconcile himself to humanity, this should also be our greatest desire. This is why we are given the “ministry of reconciliation.” What does this look like in real life?
The role of ambassador also should stand out positively as our part in God’s reconciliation to humankind. “Christ’s agents bring the good news of peace offered by the divine benefactor” (Craig S. Keener, 1-2 Corinthians, 186). Perhaps our greatest takeaway should be that God has an important role for each of us in this.
Ready (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
There is an urgency for the old to become new, for the lost to become found and for the broken to become reconciled. Paul’s vocation as a missionary oozed of urgency for reconciling the lost to God through the good news. His actions were of urgency as were his words, and we should carry on this same sense of “now.” Why the sense of urgency? It matches the desperate need of humanity.
Part of Paul’s message here is that there is no room for slack ambassadors. We have a responsibility to the same gospel that healed our brokenness. This means we cannot coast. How does “coasting” or “slacking” get a bad reputation, yet many still coast or slack?
“Now is the time” and “now is the day” points to us being ready to share and to be involved in actively sharing the gospel with others. People need to hear that their brokenness has an antidote, and they are waiting to hear it from you and me. We simply cannot wait for or bank on a tomorrow that we cannot control.
Allow time to share personal stories of being reconciled to God. By sharing these stories, we remind ourselves of our need, so that we will be reminded to share with others who still need salvation.
2 Corinthians 7:8-13 gives us a glimpse into the reconciliation that was taking place between Paul and the Corinthians in this letter. His urgent desire to speak the message of reconciliation to these brothers and sisters undergirded his words and teachings.
As people who have been changed, we should hunger for life change in others. When we experience “new life”, we should want others to also experience it. This is the fuel that moves us forward with urgency to give the life-changing message.
In the words of a hymn: “Give the winds a mighty voice, Jesus saves, Jesus saves; let the nations now rejoice. Jesus saves, Jesus saves; shout salvation full and free, highest hills and deepest caves, this our song of victory, Jesus saves, Jesus saves” (Kirkpatrick & Owens).
Heath A. Kirkwood is lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Lorena.