On Wednesday nights in Rockville we have been studying 2 Corinthians. I always appreciate the comments and questions from brothers and sisters in the class stimulating our thinking together. During one discussion session, a thought hit me while I was teaching of a connection between 2 concepts in 2 Corinthians 5. This passage says that our ministry of reconciliation (5:18) - our mission to the world - is motivated/compelled by “the fear of the Lord" (5:11) and “the love of Christ" (5:14). The fresh insight (and I say “fresh" from my perspective…I’m sure many other students of the Bible have grasped this thought long before me) was in how these 2 motivating concepts feed on one another.
The FEAR of God is an understanding of how BIG He is - the knowledge of His power, His greatness, the vastness of His Wisdom and Justice, etc. This is the beginning of all knowledge, according to the Proverbs. It is the conclusion of the Book of Ecclesiastes as well. So we are motivated for submission to personal transformation and to the ministry of reconciliation (the themes of the rest of 2 Corinthians 5) because we want to be part of the big mission of a big God.
But the LOVE of Christ is an understanding of how SMALL this big God made Himself - a baby born in a podunk town in a dirty manger to a carpenter's family. And He made Himself this way to redeem me and thereby reconcile me, the lousy sinner, to Himself. A god to be feared but who does not love does not care to reconcile rebellious creations back to Himself. And he certainly wouldn’t take on the flesh of those rebellious creatures, lowering his greatness into one of their lowly mortal bodies. This is the god of Islam. But the God of Christ…the God of our Gospel…is one who goes to whatever lengths necessary to offer the ministry of reconciliation. And now He asks us to participate in it.
So may the FEAR and the LOVE compel you this week to be an ambassador (5:20) of this cosmic and yet intimately personal Christ.
To His Glory,