Any student of the Bible knows full well that when the accounts of Jesus' life, and the letters to churches and preachers were written, there were no Chapter and Verse divisions of scripture. These were added so that various passages could be located in a logical and methodical way. Then, at some point, some Bible publishers began to section off and assign titles to areas of scripture to help readers focus on the thought.
In 2 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul writing to the church in Corinth, is talking in the first 10 verses about what changes we will undergo when we shed our earthly body, when life on earth is no more for any of us and we cross from the physical to the spiritual. That section in the NIV is headlined "Awaiting the New Body". Paul talks about our struggles here, and how God's purpose will be fulfilled; we will no longer be away from the Lord in body, but will face a judgment time where we will all appear before Christ to receive what is due us, for the things we did while we had an earthly physical body.
Paul, knowing what he just wrote in the first 10 verses, then switches gears just a bit in vs-11-21 which has the heading, "The Ministry of Reconcilliation". Vs-11 starts with these two words, "Since, then". He's referring back to the previous thoughts, about what we do in our earthly bodies, and how we will be judged, and that the mortal body will indeed be followed up with the immortal. Paul knows this is a reality of things to come in keeping with the plan of God, so he is trying to use this to instill a Godly fear.
As verse-11 continues, I want to focus today on one word in particular. "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to PERSUADE others..." Persuade simply means to "talk someone into" "convince" "cause" or "lead". This is our job as Christians today, to persuade others. Paul even says he doesn't look at these things from an earthly viewpoint, but from the point of view that God reconciled us to himself in Christ, so that eternal life could be ours. This is indeed the underlying message of the Gospel we teach today.
Persuading people is more than just educating them. I've been educated about of lot of things that I never got on-board with. I've been shown, things that I would not commit to. I fear that although we go about telling people of Jesus, and even showing them Jesus in our lives, that we can still fall short of persuading them to follow Jesus.
I know we are told to plant and water the seed and let God provide the increase, but do we chose the optimal location to plant, are we careful so that we are not planting in the shade or in the wrong season? Do we prepare the soil, do we water the right amounts? Do we protect tender shoots until they have time to grow strong? Do we fall short of persuading people?
Paul goes on in this section to make this statement, " For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died..." (vs 14). Are we compelled? Are we driven, because of Christ's love, to persuade others of the reality of judgment day and the only two outcomes that day has to offer? Verse-20 in this text is something I hope each of us today can apply to our lives, "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."
Let us through love, become concerned enough that we are capable of looking people in the eye and saying, "I implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God..." and then persuade them to commit their lives to Him.
We should do this, for God, for His church, and for the eternal salvation of others, because here is what God did for us, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Vs 21. Paul closes out this chapter telling us what God did and why, and what the result of that should be. Are we persuading others of this reality?