by: Staci Stallings
And now we circle back and begin again our discussion of the following verses:
2 Corinthians 5: 13-20:
13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
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: 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. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
We have previously discussed verse 17 about the old being gone and the new being here. So let us take one step back to verse 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.”
“We regard no one from a worldly point of view.”
As Christians we are called to be “in the world but not of the world.” This verse is an extension of that.
“in not of” We are “in” the world. We don’t get a pass from that. I’ve had people argue to me that what’s the point of being Christian if Christians still suffer? As if being a Christian was somehow a “get out of suffering” card. I’ve also had people point out that this Christian or that Christian suffered. Again, as if Christianity was somehow a magic charm. Or maybe that God loves Christians, but He hates everyone else and punishes them while His children eat cake and bonbons.
Newsflash! Jesus told us outright, no bones about it, as Christians we are IN the world. We don’t get special treatment. Life will still be life as a Christian. In fact, Jesus said, “In the world, you will have trials and tribulations…”
You got any trials and tribulations where you’re from? Yep. You are definitely IN the world.
BUT we are also called to not be “of the world.” That means that we don’t play life by the world’s standards.
Now some people think that Christians being called to a “higher standard” means that somehow Christians are called to make every decision perfectly, to never sin, to be this perfect plastic, always-with-a-smile-on-your-face person.
Come on. You and I both know that’s not going to happen. When bad things happen to good people, we get annoyed, angry, hurt. We don’t always know the right or best decision, and sometimes we get things really, REALLY wrong!
However, because we are not “of” the world, that means we have some resources that others simply haven’t realized they too have access to. Things like faith and hope, patience and forgiveness. We’re not stuck in chains of hate. We know forgiveness is an option. Further, we know (or we should) that we don’t even have to conjure up forgiveness on our own. We can ask God to come into our hearts and give us peace and help us to forgive! That’s what it means to not be “of the world”–to not have the world’s answers be our only option!
So saying that “we regard no one from a worldly point of view” means that we see BEYOND what the world sees. When someone does something for our harm, we realize that God can and will make all things work to our good. So at worst we can look at that person and say, “God’s got this, you don’t have power over me because my God is bigger than what you think you can do.”
At BEST we can become a witness to God’s mercy and love to that person.
For example, when Pope John Paul II had an attempt made to take out his life, he responded by forgiving and then visiting the man who had shot him in prison. I want you to look at this picture for a few moments. Really LOOK at it:
This is absolutely one of the most inspiring pictures I think that’s ever been taken. Do you see the bars in the background? That’s because this is prison, and that’s Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot Pope John Paul II.
Look at his face. Who is leading? Who is following? Who is being a witness to whom?
“We regard no one from a worldly point of view.” We view others from a Godly perspective, of how God sees each of us–sinners saved by Grace.
When you find a real relationship with God, when that relationship becomes more important than all other things, when you nurture, protect, and prioritize that relationship, like they said about Christ, others will say of us: ”Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer” for the witness of our lives will call forth God’s Kingdom and show this world for the pitiful replica of “life” that it is.