This morning Efrem Smith delivered a powerful and honest message. Building upon his last sermon at Woodland Hills (5/12/02), Efrem walked through 2 Corinthians 5:13-20 and focused on the responsibilities and privileges of those in the Christian community concerning reconciliation.
This morning Efrem Smith delivered a powerful and honest message entitled “Radical Reconcilers.” Building upon his last sermon at Woodland Hills (5/12/02), Efrem walked through 2 Corinthians 5:13-20 and focused on the responsibilities and privileges of those in the Christian community concerning reconciliation. The circumstances of the church at Corinth parallel aspects of the body of Christ today. Corinth was a cosmopolitan center comprised of various cultures and ethnicities. Yet within this scene of rich diversity, division was brewing. The apostle Paul, in his first letter to the church at Corinth, compelled the believers there to strive for unity in love (e.g., chapter 13). At a later time, Paul felt it was necessary to write an additional letter to readdress these issues. In chapter five of this second letter, we see that the bride of Christ is called to embody reconciliation. Specifically, radical reconcilers are called to live in several counter-cultural ways.
First, craziness is in order. According to verse 13, radical reconcilers are out of their minds for the sake of God. Those who are crazy step out of their comfort zones in faith as commissioned reconcilers. If we choose to follow Christ, we must be comfortable with the fact that people may talk about us, view us as strange and label us as spiritually deranged. A radical reconciler has an unexplainable passion that is fueled by Someone not of this world.
In addition, radical reconcilers are grounded in Jesus Christ, and all of their actions flow out of the knowledge of who he is (vs. 14). The love of Christ should be at the root of one’s craziness. If this love is real, it cannot be contained. John 3:16 proclaims that it was because of God’s love that he sent his Son. We are radical reconcilers because God didn’t just die on the cross for us; he died for the world. There are people in the world who do not know the love of God, and we are called to do something about it. As radical reconcilers we are bearers of the love of God.
Radical reconcilers must also keep their priorities straight. According to verse 15, they no longer live for themselves but for their Savior. We live in an individualistic culture that attempts to brainwash us into thinking it is all about YOU – you getting rich, you having fun, you getting fit, you getting the promotion, you investing properly, etc. If we follow these cultural trends, we will be trying to become a perfected “Me” instead of living in the “Perfected Thee!” Simply put, this worldly predicament cannot be solved by the world but only by Christ.
This call for reorientation towards God brings about a different perspective toward others and ourselves. As radical reconcilers we can no longer live under labels and titles that God never intended for us to have (vs. 15). For example, we can’t live by the secular labels of “black” and “white.” There is no destiny in being a “white woman” or a “black man.” In the Bible, the only titles that have lasting significance are those given to us by our Heavenly Father. Verse 16 tells us that we are new creations in Christ. We will never fully grasp our own identity if we continue to see ourselves as the world wants to define us. In the same way, we are not sharing the love of Christ by continuing to categorize others according to secular titles.
Finally, radical reconcilers have been given the mission of reconciliation. Paul emphasizes the significance of this role by mentioning it three times in verses 18 – 20. The same spirit of reconciliation that is in Christ is given to us. We have the privilege of both living in the freedom of reconciliation and bringing to others the message of reconciliation, that is, the proclamation of grace, forgiveness and love.
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