ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART X | Courageous Compulsion | 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Topic: New Testament Passage: 2 Corinthians 5:11–21
Christopher Rich – March 14, 2021
ENDURE | Courage in Weakness
PART X| Courageous Compulsion | 2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Introduction | What Drives you/us?
Good Morning! Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series ENDURE: Courage in Weakness.
What drives you? What makes you get out of bed in the AM? Why are you here today? What are some forces, fears, or influences that you recognize drive your thoughts and behaviors? Much of what drives us is under the surface and in the culture, we are in so we are consciously aware of our key motivators. Yet there are a few categories most of our motivations are derived from all leading back to or stemming from ourselves. We live for ourselves impacting our internal motivation and our external engagement. These can manifest themselves in a few key internal/external categories I believe are helpful for our understanding and applying our text today:
Self-Improvement – We all want to be better versions of ourselves. Pick the arena, get a plan, start to work it out believing we will be our best self. We are driven because we know we are not “good enough”.
Self-Fulfillment- I just want to be happy and enjoy life so whatever I have to do to have my best life. This is compelling because we are not truly satisfied what we are really saying is we are empty (or not full).
Affirmation – External driver to find and define who you are in relation to others. I am ok as long as these people, group, or individual is pleased with me. We desire community but know we are not truly accepted.
Appearance – We focus on what we put out to others to show well. We know we are not truly known because IF we were known completely, we wouldn’t be accepted. We want intimacy but we settle for applause.
Self-improvement and self-fulfillment are strong forces propelling our engagement with the world. Our desire for acceptance and focus on outward appearances drives, and often distorts our interactions with others. All the energy directed towards us leads to emptiness and exhaustion. We need a new compulsion.
PART I | Compelled by Love | 2 Cor 5:11-15
2 Cor 5:1-15 |11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Know and be Known- Previously there has been a great focus on looking past what is transient in our life and world to what is true about God and eternity. Our bodes are but temporary tents as we long and wait for a permanent building made by God who is preparing us for eternity and eternity for us. For now, we have been charged in this life to make it our to aim to please the Lord, in part because we will all face the “Judgement Seat of Christ”. Our lives matter for their impact now and implications for eternity, therefore:
Know the Fear of the Lord – When we exclusively focus our energy inward on ourselves, we might think we’re becoming bigger and more significant because we are now the center of our world. But we make terrible God’s. We have forgotten how big God is, how powerful God, is and how glorious God is compared to us. This isn’t describing God as terror inducing, the term means “reverential awe”. We are to revere Him, not fear Him. This reverential awe Proverbs say is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom so we understand the world, others, and ourselves when we start with seeking to understand God first. The Bible begins with God, not us. Things that inspire us empower us to invite others to also revere and be inspired by them.
Known by God – God being big and powerful means we are by comparison small and weak, but it doesn’t mean we are insignificant. We are to know the fear of the Lord AND know we are known by the LORD. As much as God is powerful and infinite, He relates to us as personal and intimate. If you take one of these away, you will either have a liberal religion with a weak god who always affirms you even in your sin and self-destruction (that is not loving) or you will religiously strive to please or appease a god who you always wonder if you’ve done enough for leading to self-righteous pride or crushing despair (that’s exhausting). We need to hold a reverent “Fear of the Lord” and remember we are known by the Lord to have a comprehensive understanding of God’s Holiness (set apart from us) and the depths of His great mercy to us. Holding these in tension should give us rest AND propel us to persuade others to know both the POWER and Peace of God.
Consumed by Self- We keep being drawn back inward when God is calling us outward. Commending ourselves is easy when we are consumed with love of self. This self-love is trying to fill the emptiness we feel when we have forgotten how loved we are. I need to love me, I need others to love me, all because I am not sure if I am truly known and loved. We are not to be consumed with pursing the approval of others to fill ourselves but rather focusing on persuading others to find their fulfillment in Christ. We can be concerned with appearances for affirmation and approval where God is concerned with our hearts compulsions because he wants our heart to revere and respond to that which will ultimately satisfy. When we both know God and are known by God, we begin to be compelled by something greater. The Powerful God of the Universe knows us personally as individuals and HE Pursues us with the LOVE of Christ so that we might be secure in our individual identity and moved to our communal purpose.
Compelled by Love – To be Compelled is to press together, even constrained/governed. We don’t like these words because we value autonomy and hate being out of control. However, it’s not as much about being controlled like a doll/robot but it is a force that drives action. Think motivation rather than manipulation. Manipulation to move people to where they wouldn’t go if they knew the truth rather persuasion is showing people what is true that perhaps they have not seen. One pushes us to where we wouldn’t go the other drives us to purse what we deeply desire. To be compelled is to say there is NO other option besides following this course of action. While fear can drive us to action, fear it is not as strong a motivator as Love is.
Christ’s Love for us so we Live for Him – We are not compelled by general bland concept of love but in response to specific action from a specific person. It is Christ’s love of us that compels us, not the intensity or sincerity of our love of Christ. This is seen in the text because it isn’t followed by demonstrations of our love for Christ but rather what Christ has already done for us and how we then live in response. Christ’s love for us isn’t vague and purely emotional it is demonstrated by His sacrificial action. We think of love as a feeling, God shows love as an action. 1 John 4:10 | In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Propitiation – Is the act of absorbing the consequences of our sin. Love is not a feeling but sacrifice in action to accomplish something specific for us. Christ’s Love cannot be known or compel us apart from Christ Death FOR us. To know Christ’s Love is to know that He died for you. If that isn’t enough affirmation of your significance to God, I don’t know what is. Seeing love as an action doesn’t mean emotions don’t matter and we don’t feel. We do feel and we should because God does.
We are compelled by the Love of Christ, because it was Christ’s love of us that compelled Him to die for us.
Our lives are no longer to be self-focused but are lived for the sake of the one who has sacrificed for us. It is important to understand HOW it motivates us. We don’t and cannot earn the sacrifice for us, we also don’t “pay it back” because we owe it or even “pay it forward” as an act of cosmic karma. Instead, we receive what has already been done and live lives in response to it. In this the Love of Christ propels us with purpose to persuade others. The sacrificial love of Christ, leading Him to death for us, sustains and motivates our new life for Him. One no longer consumed with self-absorption but compelled with new purpose.
PART II |Made New for a New Mission | 2 Corinthians 5:16-19
2 Cor 5:1-5 |16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
See New & Be New –To be compelled but the love of Christ who died so that we might not live selfishly but for the sake of persuading others to experience the power and peace of God in Christ means seeing people differently. We see them as people made by the God, lost and longing for fulfillment, acceptance, but looking for it in the wrong places. We look past other’s appearances giving us compassion and compulsion to share with them Jesus. We see the world, and the people in it, differently because we see Jesus differently. Humble, historic, hippy Jesus is not necessarily one we’d be moved to hold in “reverential awe”, (He does not have form our majesty that we should be attracted to him Isaiah 53:2) but we don’t simply see earthly Jesus but the eternal King of Kings in glory and honor. Paul knows about this change from experience. He had been living from hatred of Christ (and Christians) that was his motivator and mission. This changed for Paul when he was met by Jesus and humbled and told/shown the spiritual reality of who Jesus is. What changed? Jesus didn’t, Paul did, giving him humility and purpose to see people not for who they appear to be now but to see them in their spiritual condition. It is a transition from a “Me” centered to a Christ-centered life.
Made New for Mission– We have more than a new love that drives us, we have a new identity that defines us. We need to be made new and in Christ we are made new. This means who we are now, is not who we were. This is a joy for us and a blessing for others; we have a new purpose that beyond ourselves because our “old self” is not suitable for our new purpose now and it’s not going to enduring for eternity. Old “in Sin” – It is the identity we are all born with and walk out in our lives. All of sinned and fallen short. So we are not friend but foe, not family but orphan, not citizen but alien, not saint but sinner, not innocent but guilty, not honored by shamed. That is the old you, in sin, but it’s gone and “passed away”. Augustine – African was known to be highly promiscuous. He became a Christian and returned to an Island he had visited previously and a prostitute chased him down the street saying repeatedly “Augustine, Augustine, it is I!” finally he stopped and turned to say to her, “Yes, but it is no longer ‘I’”. The old Augustine was gone the new was there.
New is “In Christ” – Being made new in Christ different than trying to be better for/by yourself. This is not an improved you, but a new identity. This is who you are NOW, not later, not when you get better, not when you finally are self-actualized. it’s not achieved but it’s received. So it is not just a new you, it is a new you “In Christ” IN Christ = Belong to Christ, to be in Christ power, to be united to Christ’s person, and to be part of Christ’s Body the Church. Our Faith in Christ leads us to live in His Power, united with Him in the Holy Spirit connected to a community of all other Christians. This is preparation for our participation on the new creation that is to come. Old us cannot be part of New Earth, we’d just ruin it again. No longer estranged, you are now “reconciled” in wholeness “shalom/peace”. You are not God’s foe or even a defeated and surrendered enemy. You are friend of God free from the enmity of sin. How you’re known and seen by God is IN Christ. You cannot tell someone to become new or to make themselves new, this is something only God can do and does.
Reconciliation- The Gospel is multifaceted and comprehensive in its implications. Justification defines our legal standing. Sanctification describes clean/ceremonial/change. Adoption determines our family. Kingdom is our destination as citizens. Reconciliation is explicitly relational; it is where foes are turned to friends. Reconciliation implies estrangement because it’s bringing BACK together something which was previously severed. Sin separates. Our sin has separated us FROM God. This is a state of alienation. We see this in broken marriages, friendship, etc. where there is no trust or even affection, no mutual respect. Lines of communication are down, wall are up. In this case, we are the cause. We are at fault, yet HE is the one who pursues. He is the one that bridges the gap and closes the separation we could not. We cannot deal with our own sin and we cannot fix what our sin has broken. In order for sin to be dealt with and the separation to be closed our debt of sin had to no longer be counted against us. The debt is only cleared because the debt has been paid. Reconciliation requires a response - We have received reconciliation, so we seek reconciliation, and we speak reconciliation. He has accomplished the mission and entrusted the us with the message.
PART III |Ambassadors of a Great Kingdom | 2 Cor 5:20-21
2 Cor 5:20-21 |20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
How does God make His announcement and call to others to join the kingdom? Through us! He is still making the appeal. Loved, known, forgiven, reconciled, new person, and purpose means we are now no longer aliens or enemies to the kingdom but are ambassadors of it. We are not apathic ambassadors, but we urgently implore the estranged and the distance to be reconciled to God and become part of a Great Kingdom. MacKenzie Scott (Jeff Bezos Ex Wife) married a High School Teacher and He’s going to help give away several billion dollars of her fortune. Didn’t earn it, received it, and now is an ambassador giving it away.
Great Exchange - God doesn’t count our sins against us because he paid the price for them. God doesn’t simply forgive and forget, he sacrifices and satisfies so forgiveness can bring freedom. Jesus in our place. Jesus is our example, but the great news of the Gospel is Jesus is our substitute. Jesus was sinless (knew no sin = No personal impact or engagement with sin) Jesus became the offering for our sin and bared the consequences of our sin. What we show up with our sin. What we give is our shame. We were estranged and forsaken (Jesus became forsaken “for our sake”) “for our sake” - Because of sin, we are rebel agitators deserving a traitor’s death. Jesus is righteous and received at the right hand of the Father so “for our sake” we receive the righteousness of God. When we’ve received the righteousness of God (imputed to us) then we never have to worry about losing it, we are compelled not by fear but driven by love to live this new life out. On the Cross, Jesus takes our sin in exchange for His righteousness so we can live to point others to Him. If you want to come to the kingdom of Christ what you bring is your worst and what God gives you is His best. What now drives us? It is Christ’s Work for us, which is so much greater than anything we can hope to accomplish. Self- Fulfillment – Peace and Wholeness with God | Self- Improvement – Made new | Appearance – Clothed in Righteous of Christ | Acceptance – Reconciled to God and an Ambassador for God. All as we Trust Jesus!
More in ENDURE: Courage in Weakness | 2 Corinthians
June 20, 2021ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART XX | Courage to Endure | 2 Corinthians 12:20-13:14
June 6, 2021ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART XIX | Enduring Weakness | 2 Corinthians 12:1-19
May 30, 2021ENDURE | Courage in Weakness PART XVIII | Leading out of Weakness and Vulnerability