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Monday, February 16, 2015

Today’s Reading | 2 Corinthians 5:11–6:2

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! (NRSV)

Often when Paul speaks about what God has done in Jesus Christ, he speaks about a new creation in which the old has passed away and the new has appeared. In Jesus Christ, God has set all things right. So radical and amazing is this act of God that Paul exclaims, “See, everything has become new!” It is a ta-da moment, no less significant or amazing than what God created “in the beginning.”

There is, however, a big difference between the new creation made possible in Christ and the original creation in Genesis. Whereas “in the beginning” God created the world out of nothing, in Christ God re-creates the world out of what already exists, including what we have already done for better or worse. God does not create from a slate wiped clean; God does not undo what was done or override our mistakes. Rather, in Christ God comes down to us, dwells among us, is offended and betrayed by us, suffers and dies because of us. And yet he advocates for us, prays for us, and forgives us. Christ re-creates us.

When I lead in worship the Declaration of Pardon that follows the congregation’s Prayer of Confession, I often say that “God created the heavens, the mountains, and the seas. Even more amazing than this is how God re-creates us through the love and forgiveness of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I truly believe that in Christ we are not the same as we were before; in Christ we are a new creation. Thanks be to God.

I know, Lord, that I have to live with all I have done. And yet, because of you, I do not fall into despair. I pray that you forgive me, and I pray that I forgive others so that the tragedies of our lives and the catastrophes in our world can become the new creation for which we hope. For the sake of Christ I pray. Amen.

Written by
Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life

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