The Bible is a story of a rescue mission. God created humankind for a purpose that was damaged by sin. In Jesus, God is inviting the people of the world back to himself. Yet our salvation is not about gaining a place but regaining the person that God originally created us to be. People with a restored image engage the world in a distinctive way that demonstrates the gospel’s power and credibility.
This new life begins with a new vision, a new way of seeing. In the Christ event, a whole new world has been born and this new world begins in the life of the believer. This is a deeply personal moment for the Apostle Paul. His previous disdain for Jesus and the church had been replaced by an overwhelming sense of His love for him. There is no power so great, no motivation so strong as the knowledge that someone loves you. This love now became the controlling force of his life.
This new creation not only radically affects the relationship between God and humanity but the relationship of individuals to each other. Those who’ve been truly reconciled to God—reunited to God through what happened in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection—have been called to the work of reconciliation with others. Jesus’s death was not only done to forgive sin but to bring about the death of self-centered living and the judgments that result from it. Human judgments are always affected by prejudice and bias. In Christ, we no longer regard anyone from this worldly point of view. We demonstrate the new creation by seeing and loving others the way God has loved us.
The heart of this passage is about the ministry of reconciliation—calling others to faith in Jesus. Yet the Apostle ends by turning the message back on his listeners, on us. He implores believers also to be reconciled to God. This is not a call to be saved again but to a full commitment to our salvation. We must not only articulate the message of Jesus but embody it if we hope to persuade people in our culture about the claims of the gospel for their lives.