It is relatively easy to confess our sins to God and ask for his forgiveness. It is much harder to forgive others when they sin against us. But Jesus teaches us to do both: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12). This is the pattern of our praying and the design for our doing.
Paul describes this praying and doing as “the ministry of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5:16–21.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you 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.
Notice several things about this passage.
First, Paul highlights the importance of perspective. He draws an implicit contrast between godly and worldly points of view: A godly perspective sees the world through the lens of reconciliation. A worldly point of view sees it only through the lens of judgment. Prior to his conversion, Paul saw Jesus from a worldly perspective because he refused to believe that God was saving humanity through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
Second, Paul identifies the power underlying the perspective. It is God’s power, through Jesus Christ, to forgive our sins and enable us to live a new and better life. When we put our faith in Jesus, God makes a “new creation” out of us. We become “the righteousness of God.”
Third and finally, based on this godly perspective and “new creation” power, Paul tells us that our lives have a new and better purpose: to share God’s forgiveness with others. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” Life has many good purposes: marriage, children, happiness, significance, and success, to name just a few. But there is no greater purpose to life—none more worthy of our attention—than having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and inviting others to do the same. When we recite the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we move from contemplation to action. Asking (“Forgive us our debts”) becomes doing (“as we also have forgiven our debtors”).
So I conclude with three questions: Are you reconciled to God? Are you reconciling with others? Are you reconciling others to God? God’s will for your life is saying “Yes!” to each question.