Friend of God: Name Dropping

Friend of God

Daily Reading: (Romans 5:11):

“Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

We have the opportunity every day in our lives to boast about the victory Jesus has given us. We boast about different stuff all the time. Just look at bumper stickers, “my kids is an honor student”, “I ran 26.2 miles”, “I am an alumni of XYZ University”. Social media is full of places we have been, the food we ate, and things we have experienced that we are proud of and want to share with the world. There is something within us to want to share the wonderful things we have been a part of, and here Paul is saying we can and should boast in the greatest thing to ever happen to us, we are now reconciled to God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What is crazy is God didn’t give this great gift to His best friends, God gave the gift that was the life of His son, to His enemies. Enemies? That’s strong language but it is what we were apart from Jesus,“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life” (Romans 5:10)!

That is why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, because this is what I did for you. When someone is persecuting you, causing you trouble, we have the Holy Spirit who gives us love, joy, peace, etc… This person who is not acting like a friend, but more like an enemy, I can pray for them, they are the perfect candidate for someone who needs Jesus. This is where miracles take place. God loves them too and wishes for them to have their lives forever changed by the Gospel.

So, we use to be enemies with God (Romans 5:10) but being reconciled to Him through Jesus, we are now friends of God and part of His family. We are friends and even family of the One who made the Universe.

We have now received the reconciliation. The word “received” means that this reconciliation is a gift that we receive by grace through Christ. Reconciliation is special in that it is not like most other gifts. Let’s say it is your birthday and your significant other buys you a lantern. A lantern is a practical yet fairly lame gift. Most people don’t ask for a lantern for their birthday, you might even question how well they know you or have been paying attention to you over the year. But if your power goes out you might be thankful for the lantern. Then when the power is restored, you put the lantern away, and then forget about it entirely until the power goes out again. Then you feel thankful again for the gift again.

This is different from what Paul means by receiving the gift of reconciliation. He means receiving it in such a way that what is in the package makes you rejoice all the time. And what is in the gift, is God reconciled. The gift of reconciliation is God offering us Himself so that we might rejoice in Him.

James 2:23 says: And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. ‘And he was called the friend of God. In John 15:15 Jesus said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Jesus made us righteous through His sacrifice on the cross and our faith in Him. We now are friends of God (John 15:15, James 2:23).

What we should be doing is name-dropping about who we are friends with. God is my friend. God is my Father. It changes our perspective on things. Paul is so confident in his relationship with God, that he says to other believers who gave to him to help him while in prison “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). I am friends with God, He has abundantly blessed and abundantly supplied me in Jesus.

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The Old is Gone

The Old is Gone

Daily Reading: (2 Corinthians 5:16-19):

“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. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 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.”

This verse tells us the old us is gone. The you before Christ – the one who was captive to sin- the one who struggled with whatever it is that plagued your life (fill in the blank) anger, fear, anxiety, self-doubt, guilt whatever it was that you is gone. The past you died, it was crucified with Christ the moment you first believed and Paul says, you no longer live, but Christ lives in you. Which makes you a new you, a new creation, a beautiful beloved child of God, who is holy, blameless and pure.

And if you haven’t yet believed- today is the day as Paul says to become a new creation in God. This doesn’t mean fear won’t ever come or some of those things I listed- but if it does, you have the perfect love of God to cast it out. If you start to get impatient – the new you in Christ is patient, loving, and kind- remind yourself who you are. For any of those things that you might not like about your former self, that person is gone. And we have a new victorious reality we live in.

Self-indulgence (living in sin) or self-denial (trying self- effort to live free of sin), either way was a lose-lose proposition.

Thankfully, God had a better plan: For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because now “anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6–7).

So, 2 Corinthians 5:17 is powerful because it tells you in Christ you are the new you but there is also something before and something after this verse that is important to know now that you are a new creation. To start with- let’s start with what comes before it. From the time that we gained this view of Christ‘s death for us, the worldly standards and distinctions of race, class, don’t matter to Paul (Galatians 3:28) as he looks at all men from the standpoint of the cross of Christ. Because we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) we have a new mission (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) and the way we view Jesus and other people has changed too (2 Corinthians 5:16).

What is the ministry of reconciliation?

Reconciliation (katallagē): of the restoration of the favor of God to sinners that repent and put their trust in the expiatory death of Christ. Wherever God has placed you, whatever gifting He has given to you, it shall be used to tell others the good news of the Gospel of Jesus that in Christ there is favor with God forever.

Paul reinforces the supremacy of the ministry of reconciliation and the only thing he changes is he calls it a word or message of reconciliation instead of a ministry. He uses the Greek word ‘Logos’. In chapter 1 of John, John identifies Christ as the Logos. What this means in this subtle shift is that the way we proclaim the favor of God (the ministry of reconciliation) is by proclaiming Christ as the reconciler and the only way to bring restoration in relationship with God our Father (2 Corinthians 5:19).