For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. — 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Within each of us there are principles and ideals that shape our worldview, and which motivate us to think, say, and do things with serious intention. Usually there is a degree of passion involved that makes us feel deeply about those things we believe to be true.
However, because of sin our worldview has become infected, somewhat like a computer virus. Our principles and ideals tend to become skewed away from objective truth and many of our certainties become highly subjective and tragically mistaken. Sin not only puts us personally at odds with God, but also in conflict with other people. Too often we find that our own misguided perspectives get in the way of his master plan of salvation.
The “pre-Christian” life of the Apostle Paul is a prime example of how a principled and passionate man can be so misdirected by his warped worldview. He was so absolutely certain of his belief system that he was willing to imprison, torture, and kill innocent and helpless people who did not agree with him.
He wholeheartedly, but mistakenly, believed that what he was doing actually pleased God Almighty. He was totally convinced that he was doing the Lord’s will and was proud to be doing it. How wrong he was! How wrong we often are!
We see this familiar scenario increasingly at work in the world around us. People, individually and corporately, have many conflicting worldviews, with different sets of principles and ideals. Each is convinced that he is right. Any alternative perspective is inferior and, therefore, must be ridiculed and eliminated. Sometimes accommodations can be made, and mutual respect gradually makes way for toleration.
More commonly, however, the intensity of conflicting thoughts and feelings leads to acrimony that results in angry disputes, violence, even terrorism and bloodshed. Sin seems to have a “trickle up” effect. Strong religious and political convictions can easily lead our idealism to violently oppose others rather than searching for common ground on which to agree and stand together.
For those who are in Christ, who have received his amazing grace and are being intentionally transformed to his image, there is a whole other worldview that rules our lives. The love of Christ is the game changer. It is the new and radical motivator for what we do and why we do it.
The fact that he died, not just for our sins but the sins of all men, including those of the most vile and disgusting, causes us to reconsider our own personal perspective. The love our Savior has for all mankind led him to the cross to make atonement for the sins of the whole world.
That act of obedience reflected the love of God making a way for reconciliation between all sinful men and himself. This love captures our hearts and minds. So now we are compelled to reckon ourselves dead to our own sinful, selfish nature and alive to Christ who now lives in us. We are convinced that his death was for everybody, including those we once despised and condemned.
We can no longer regard anyone the way we used to do. We cannot hate and condemn those whom Jesus loves and redeems. Our passion has shifted so that we must now love those whom he loves and live our lives accordingly. Because we are a new creation, we see all others in a new light.
The remainder of the 5th chapter in 2nd Corinthians explains that we have become agents of the same reconciliation that brought us back to God. We have received the message and ministry (service) of reconciliation and are now Christ’s ambassadors, official representatives of the Kingdom of God. Our life is no longer our own to do with as we please. We are his servants.
I remember in days gone by playing Capture the Flag well into warm summer evenings. Part of the game strategy was to try and catch as many opponents as possible. Their capture resulted in conversion to your side. In a spiritual sense I have been captured by the love of Christ. I am not merely a prisoner, but a valued team member and servant to his divine cause.
As such, I am in the business of reconciling men to God through Jesus Christ. I can no longer judge and condemn others. My purpose now is to win them over to God’s Kingdom with grace, mercy, and lovingkindness. That goal will continually test the strength of my faith and commitment. Nevertheless, I am compelled by Christ’s love to pursue it.
[LeRoy Curtis is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Asbury Theological Seminary. He served four years as a U.S. Naval Officer after which he became a pastor, Bible professor, educator, author, and missionary living in E. Africa for eight years where he and his wife developed a curriculum of biblical studies for untrained pastors in rural Kenya. His passion for training young church leaders takes him to various parts of the U.S., Latin America, and Africa. He and Judy are currently residing in Carrollton, Georgia.]