20:20 Gospel Vision

20:20 Gospel Vision

The other day, my next-door neighbours gave me their members’ tickets to watch the Crows play at Adelaide Oval. It was a terrific game, right up until halfway through the third quarter, when the opposition team steamrolled the locals.

But being there in person made me so aware of what elite athletes these professional players are. They’re not only talented, but they’re also supremely fit. Their fans idolise them (well, the Crows players were idolised until halfway through the third quarter!). Not only that, they get paid a fortune for doing something they enjoy. If you’re a professional AFL player, you’re one of the ‘haves’.

In 2 Corinthians 5:16, Paul the apostle says, ‘So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.’ What’s the alternative? To look at someone from a Martian perspective? Paul had a tense relationship with the Corinthian church. It spilled over at many points in 1 and 2 Corinthians. It seemed that the believers in Corinth saw Paul as a sub-standard gospel worker. He wasn’t a megastar gospel worker. They’d moved on to other teachers who seemed more outwardly impressive and successful. Paul consistently urged his brothers and sisters in Christ to see things from God’s perspective and not assess him and the gospel based on the values of the culture they lived in.

The argument in 2 Corinthians 5 goes a step further. Paul urged his readers to see themselves and the people around them from the standpoint of the gospel. If you’re a believer, it’s not about looking good in the eyes of others. It’s all about seeing yourself and others the way God does. In 2 Corinthians 5:14, we read, ‘For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.’ And in verse 19, ‘God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.’ In God’s mercy, if you’re a believer, you have forgiveness and life and are part of His forever family. Judgement fell on Christ at the cross so you could be reconciled to God.

When we ‘get’ the gospel, it transforms our perspective on ourselves and those around us. Our world’s measures are based on success, gifts, education, influence, looks, power and money. Our culture is very self-aware – we subtly compare ourselves with others all the time. But if you have a relationship with God through Jesus, you ‘fear the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:11). That is, we want to live to please Him on His terms. At the end of the day, we’re not driven by what others think of us but by what God thinks.

We know the key issue in this world isn’t how well you can kick and catch a football. It’s about whether we’ve been reconciled to God. Does God no longer count our sins against us?

And if we get this, we also know that we now live in the age when God is reconciling people to Himself in Christ. Not only that, we get the fact that we are ‘Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us’ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

I really enjoyed my outing at Adelaide Oval. But this week, as I read through 2 Corinthians, I found myself again challenged to ‘see’ people the way God does. The ‘haves’ are those who are reconciled to God. The ‘have nots’, no matter what their success or status on this world’s terms, are those who are not reconciled to God.

How do you see your friends, neighbours, work colleagues, family, fellow students, people who serve you at the supermarket, and anyone else you have regular connections with?