There is a lot of turmoil in the world and much of it is over religion. Jesus Christ is often in the middle of it, being compared to Mohammed, Buddha and others. Currently the Da Vinci Code book and the Gospel of Judas discovery have sparked controversy over the true Jesus. People are too ready to believe the conspiracy theories as American society in particular becomes more distrustful of those in authority.
However, Jesus has always been a controversial spiritual leader from the very start of His public ministry. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, the apostolic leaders of the early church also came under attack. There have always been those who have wanted to twist the true teachings of Jesus to fit their own theological systems.
Paul was one of those apostolic leaders who seemed to stir up controversy everywhere he went. Subsequently he was criticized by those who wanted to undermine his authority and discredit his ministry. In Second Corinthians, Paul discusses at length his apostolic calling and what motivates him to continue living completely for Jesus. The bottom line for Paul: knowing Jesus means to live for Him.
1. We are to be controlled by His love, v 14
For the love of Christ controls us
- Illustrations of control: Suffering from fever, Luke 4:38; Gripped with fear, Luke 8:37; Pressing in on you, Luke 8:45; Hem you in on every side, Luke 19:43; Holding Jesus in custody, Luke 22:63
Having concluded this:
- Paul knew beyond doubt that Jesus loved him enough to die in his place
- Thats the question isnt it: how strongly do you know the love of Christ as demonstrated by His death?
- If you are born again, you have come to the same conclusion as Paul: Jesus loves you
- The love of Christ leaves no choice except to live for Him
Jesus died for all, therefore all died with Him
- A simple conclusion with profound implications: He loved me enough to die for me, to take my place, and once having concluded that, His love constrains me, compels me, controls my choices in how I live my life
2. We are to live only for Him, v 15
...They who live might no longer live for themselves...
- Jesus not only died to save us, He died to free us to live for Him
- We refer to this as Jesus being Lord as well as Savior
But for Him who died and rose again on their behalf
- Jesus meant it when He said, Whoever wants to save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospels will save it Mk 8:35
- Denying self is ultimately expressed through giving ourselves to others
3. We are to see people as God sees them, vs 16, 17
We recognize no one according to the flesh:
- We no longer form judgments based on human understanding
- When we perceive Jesus as He is, it changes our perception of how we perceive others
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature...
- We not only have a new nature, but a new perspective of the world around us
- Old things: not just our sinful nature but our fallen perception of others
- New things: not just a new nature, but a new perception of others
- Our new spiritual perception begins with ourselves
...One died for all... (remember verse 14)
- All people are objects of Gods love, regardless of how they talk, act, smell, or whatever: God loves them and died for them
4. We are to be people of reconciliation, vs 18-21
What God has done for us in Christ needs to be lived out openly in the community
...Gave us the ministry of reconciliation
- Ministry of reconciliation:
a) Proclaiming the truth about Jesus whenever
b) Persuading the interested in giving their life to Him
c) Praying with them to be born again
- The methodology of Jesus: (Lk 10 instructions to the seventy)
a) Bless them: enter into relationship
b) Eat with them: spend time with people
c) Heal the sick: pray for their needs with them
d) Tell them about the Kingdom of God: proclamation
...Not counting their trespasses against them
- Also in Romans 5:8, God demonstrates His own love for us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
- Unbelievers sense when you are uncomfortable or disapproving of their lifestyle
- But just as God was merciful to us, we need to learn how to be merciful to others
As though God were making His appeal through us
- If you are born again, you represent Jesus Christ in the world in which you live
- Being a people of reconciliation means we need to live openly for Jesus, loving people enough to share our story of what Jesus has done
5. Pauls Conclusion: Knowing Jesus means living for Him
It shouldnt matter what anyone says about Jesus
Youve seen Him, youve been transformed, you know who He is, continue to follow Him
Be the expression of His love to the people around you so that they too might see Jesus and be transformed
1. How did you come to perceive the love of God for you in Christ?
2. What are some real life examples of giving oneself to others?
3. Discuss some common hindrances to seeing others as God sees them. How can these be overcome?
4. What are some of the difficulties in developing genuine relationships with unbelievers? What are some solutions?