New Life Has Begun!

growth-621090_640Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13 and Psalm 20  •  2 Corinthians 5:6-17  •  Mark 4:26-34

So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:6-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

Paul continues this second letter to the church at Corinth.  In the previous paragraphs, Paul has written about the trials that he has faced in preaching the gospel.  In chapter 4 he writes, “We are pressed on every side by trouble, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

He also writes about being a treasure in this human jar of clay.  He transitions then to the hope – that there is coming a day when these earthly tents that we live in will be exchanged for eternal bodies.

This is what gives Paul his confidence as we read in vs 6.  As long as we are in these bodies, we are absent from our home with the Lord.  We are reminded that we walk by faith, not by sight.  The older I get the more I understand why the saints of the church long to be with their Savior.  Paul even mentions this.  We would rather be at home with the Lord, but we make it our ambition while we are in these “earthly tents” to please the Lord.  Ultimately, this is what we will be judged on.

Knowing that, we have a responsibility to live as ambassadors for Christ.  Paul calls it a fearful responsibility to the Lord.  We work to share the gospel of Christ.  Why? because of Christ’s love.  The love of Christ compels us to share the good news – that Jesus came, that Jesus died, that Jesus rose, and that Jesus is coming again.

Jesus came that we may have new life.  It is different from the old life.  Jesus died so that we no longer live for ourselves, but that we live for Christ, if we receive the new life that he offers us.  It is this new life in Christ that compels us to live for him.  Paul finishes this section with “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

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