Sometimes, Christians probably wish that in the face of all the troubles they go through in life, that God would just take them to heaven already. Why doesn’t he?
There are many reasons we could give, but one big one is that we have a job to do. Paul tells us in verse 16, that we should no longer view people from a worldly point of view, but from God’s point of view. How does God view the world?
We mentioned one way he sees us a couple of days ago: as people created in his image, and therefore precious.
But here we see another way he sees us. Paul says in verse 20 that we are Christ’s ambassadors.
In Rome, there were two kinds of provinces, some friendly to Rome’s rule and some hostile. The latter were under the authority of the emperor rather than the senate. And to these hostile provinces were sent ambassadors to help keep the peace.
That’s the picture Paul gives here: that though the people of this world are created in God’s image, the vast majority have rebelled against him and are hostile to him.
But as his ambassadors, what message do we bring? A message of hostility? No. First and foremost, it’s a message of reconciliation. We appeal on Christ’s behalf:
Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (5:20-21)
This is the heart of the gospel message: that Jesus, God’s Son, came to this earth and he lived a perfect life. He never did a wrong thing, never had a wrong thought, never failed to do a good deed that his Father had called him to do. But then he went to the cross, and as he did, God put all of our sins on him, and he took the punishment we deserved on himself.
And now, because of what Christ has done, when we put our faith in Christ, God no longer sees us as sinners. Rather, he sees us through the lens of Jesus Christ. In other words, as he looks at us, he doesn’t see our sins, but Christ’s righteousness covering us.
Put another way, he justifies us. He looks at us and says, “Not guilty.”
Not only that, when God looks at us, all of Christ’s righteous works are counted as ours.
What do we have to do to receive this precious gift of reconciliation? Simply believe and accept it.
That’s the message. But that’s not quite all of it. We need to truly see the urgency of this message we are to bring people. Paul says we need to plead with them, “Don’t just ignore this opportunity you have been given. Don’t wait!” (1)
For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2)
None us know when our time will come. And the sad truth is, the more people harden their hearts to this message and wait, the more difficult it becomes for them to accept it.
So as we one song puts it, we need to tell people:
Forget about tomorrow.
Won’t you choose the Lord today.
For your tomorrow, could very well begin today.