For Christ’s love compels us

The Apostle Paul wrote 2 Corinthians.  He was a man whose life was radically changed and saved by Jesus, who knowing he’d been shown amazing grace, could not keep the Good News to himself.  He had to tell someone, he had to charge others, including us to tell someone.

2 Corinthians 5:11:  Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others…

As followers of Jesus, we know what it is to fear the Lord.  The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  The fear of the Lord meaning, that we as His people live daily in light of His holiness, greatness, majesty, and incomparable nature and character.  That when we get up in the morning to when we go to bed, we live consciously in reverence to Him.  To fear the Lord does not mean to cower in terror for those who are in Christ.  Because the Lord has been gracious to us in salvation, and we are now His children, and He is our Father, but it does mean that because we are saved, we know that He is that great, that mighty, and that truly awe-some.

And as a result, we try to persuade others.  We don’t want to keep the Good News to ourselves.  We persuade others through our way of life and our words.  Not one or the other, but both.

As author and evangelist Mack Stiles says, evangelism is “teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.”

Our role in this grand mission is not to convict, or illuminate, or save, or reconcile.  All of those roles are part of what the Holy Spirit does.  Our role is to show and tell, to teach the Gospel, with the goal, or aim, to persuade.  Lovingly persuading and pointing others to Jesus, the One true Savior and Lord.

In verse 14, Paul now goes after our motivation.

14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 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.

Christ’s love compels us.  Other translations use the word controls.  For Christ’s love controls us.  The idea here in the Greek is to imagine a strait of water.  A channel of water that forces a massive ship toward a narrow path.

In the same way, we are controlled, or compelled by the love of Christ to show and tell.  It is not guilt, or begrudging obedience, or in an effort to earn our salvation or more of God’s love.  Rather, simply, for those who have experienced the generous, radical love of Jesus found in the Good News, we are then compelled by such love to move toward telling others about this great love.

Christ’s love urges us.  It holds us in this path or way of life that lives for the sake of others.  That moves us away from the living just for ourselves, or living in fear of what others think, but moves us to follow a Lord and Savior who will lead us to take risks, walk and live by faith, and show and tell.

And then you see Paul give us a description of that love.  What is Christ’s love?  His love was on magnificent and beautiful display in His death.

that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 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.

Jesus laid down His life, and willingly took it back up on the 3rd day.  This is God’s love on display.  This is the love of Christ that compels us.  Because for those who are in Christ, we are convinced of this.  To be a Christ follower, one thing that means for you is that you’ve been convinced that without Jesus, you’d be lost and eternally separated from God.  You’d still be dead in your sin.

But with Jesus, by believing in His name and following Him as Lord, you have been saved and set free from sin.  You’ve now, not only been given abundant life here on this earth, but you’ve got a Heavenly home that awaits you, where there is no more tears, death, sickness, or sadness.  You are convinced that your life has not and will never be the same because of Jesus.

And verse 15 makes it clear that because of the love of Christ, because of what Jesus has done for us, we now live our lives for Him.  That doesn’t mean our God is deficient or needs our help, but rather we are to live to display His greatness.

So evangelism, let alone this life, has nothing to do with us.  And everything to do with Jesus.  He is who we are making much of.  Not us.  So it is not Dave who is in the spotlight when I’m sharing with a friend, it is Jesus.  He is who I am shining a light on.  The One whose love was in powerful display through His selfless, sacrificial death.

Paul then goes on in verses 16-21, laying out for us the Good News!  That God is reconciling the world to Himself through Christ, and for those of us who are reconciled, we are then given the message to go.  To show and tell.  We are now ambassadors of reconciliation to a lost and broken world.  The message of reconciliation has been committed to us as His people!

So often, we want to reduce evangelism to methods and practices.  A life that shows and tells…it doesn’t begin there though.  The motivation to show and tell begins in a heart that has been saved.  A life that is a new creation.  A heart that has experienced the love of God, and can’t help but show and tell of it.

The first step of evangelism…to be a follower of Christ who shows and tells of the Good News, is to come to grips personally with the love of Christ that has been displayed for you.  That as a result of His great love, we are compelled, controlled, and ushered toward a life that lives for His name, for His glory, for His purposes.

Crosspoint, may we be people, who not only are changed by His love, but are compelled by His love!