By Althea Taylor, Director of CJI

NIV: 2 Corinthians 5:16-20
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Message: 2 Corinthians 5: 16-20
16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
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Last week we looked at Micah 6:8 and reflected on the first requirement the Prophet Micah reiterated to the children of Israel; Act Justly! This week we reflect on the second, Love Mercy!

Love Mercy is the second of three imperatives the prophet Micah calls the children of Israel to remember and embrace in response to God’s disappointment with their behavior. The Lord has declared that his chosen people have abandoned their covenant and they are being summoned to return as the prophet reminds them of what is required: right action, right words and right attitudes. God’s children are called to:
1. abandon living lives full of inconsistencies, 

2. participating in cheap and empty religious practices, and 

3. demonstrating a love of their neighbor. 

We must act, say, and live lives motivated from a genuine love for the Lord. As the saying goes, talk is cheap: our walk and talk must match. If we are to live into an authentic covenantal relationship with Christ, we must not only embody just acts rooted in our love for God they must also be extended in love to others.“Love Mercy” is a call to reconciliation and obedience. Reconciliation and obedience is lived through right relationship, not right religion – relationships that are expressed in a credible witness with God and with neighbor.

The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:16-20 reminds us that we are called to see one another not from a worldly point of view but as brothers, sisters, neighbors. When we became followers of Jesus we were called to view each other differently – the “old you” is gone and the “new you” has arrived, and so your socialization to God and neighbor is now different because you are different. 

This difference calls us, in love, to be not only recipients of grace but extenders of grace also. We not only proclaim the message of reconciliation, but we are called to be reconcilers in the way we live Christ’s love in our world. Reconciliation calls us to put an end to hostility and is closely related to the term justify (Romans 5:9-10).

Christ’s coming into the world and dying in our place, even as He bore all of our sins, has reconciled our relationship with the Father, and put an end to the hostile relationship caused by sin and deserving of death. 

Jesus’ action on the Cross was more than justice, it was also an act of compassion. I once heard Dr. Tom Nees, a beloved leader in the Church of the Nazarene, a man who embodied a credible Christian witness and for whom we have named our ministry in his honor (the Tom Nees Center for Justice, Compassion & Immigration) once said:  “Compassion is not something we do, compassion is something we are!

Theologian Henri Nouwen in his book “Compassion” writes: 

Compassion asks us…“to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human”.

So, if Act Justly is:

  1. right action – not participating in unjust behaviors
  2. right words – not participating in unjust speech
  3. right attitude – not adhering to unjust attitudes that lead to unjust behaviors

then Love Mercy is:

  1. being in a relationship that demonstrates we are at peace with God & neighbor
  2. being fully immersed in living out what it means to forgive and be forgiven 
  3. being a demonstration of what it means to “feel” with those who are “feeling.” A denial of self for the cause of Christ! RECONCILIATION

As this Lent season is drawing to a close, now more than ever, let us reflect on what Jesus spending time with the Father in the wilderness prepared him to do and to be in his earthly ministry. As Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) we are called to be his reflection of such love.

Questions:

  1. As you think about your relationship with Jesus and your witness of His love to the world, are you challenged by today’s reflection?
  2. If yes, in what ways do you sense the Lord calling you to adjust your spiritual posture before God and your witness before others?

Pray: Gracious Lord, have mercy on me. I desire to live for you and demonstrate your love to those around me. As a part of your church, help me to join with like-minded Christians and live as a credible witness in the world, of your love. A love that is demonstrated by living in peace with you and others, knowing that because I have been forgiven, I am called to forgive, and walk in empathy with all you place in my path.