So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 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. 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.
(2 Corinthians 5:17–20 NRSV)
Ahhhh yes, the deeply soothing balm of grace. Paul reminds me of the very first sermon I heard after thirty years of atheism-the one that brought me back the next week since it was such healthy psychological advice (if you took the Jesus part out). Carrying baggage only slows us down.
I find it progressively more difficult to administer grace the closer the receiving party is to me. I forgive people on TV and at work effortlessly. But, that is not all of grace, is it? I assume the best of people on a regular basis as well. I also tend to discount negative information as aberrant rather than indicative of character. Things work differently inside the walls of our home.
I am driven to discuss all of my offspring’s (is that the right word for an eighteen year old?) negative behavior with them. They need to know why it is bad and where they will end up if they persist in their crooked ways. However, I am still much better at forgiving than punishing – with my offspring (descendants, progeny?)…
My wife. My poor wife. As part of me I hold her to the same ridiculous standards I typically inflict on myself, with one key difference. I know my intentions to be pure (OK, for the most part), and that bias colors how I judge my behaviors. Alissa’s actions stand naked with no such protective covering. Often I hold her far too accountable for way too long. Please do not get me wrong. I am not a monster, not toward myself or my wife. But, I am not Jesus either.
Sometimes our family prays together, and we treat each other the way Jesus treats us. Those are good times. Truly, the best moments we spend together as a couple and as a family come when put our baggage down.
That is the application 2 Corinthians 5:17. It is powerful, beautiful, and potentially impactful on daily basis and a huge scale. Just the same, it only scratches the surface of what it means to be reconciled to God. Awareness of that sublime realty translates grace from human to Kingdom scale. Then, with our baggage left at the foot of the cross and our lives fueled by right relationship with Jesus, we cannot help but serve as ambassadors inviting others to join the larger family of the Church.