2 Corinthians 5:14-15 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.
This whole section is so rich! Especially from verse 17 through 21, many songs have been written and countless sermons have been preached, including quite a few by me. However, it’s these two verses that speak to me particularly right now. This expresses the difference between religion and discipleship. We see people from various groups, both Christian and otherwise, out proselytizing, and sometime accuse ourselves for our relative inaction. That sense of guilt might be from the Holy Spirit, but then again it might not. Far too much of that sort of thing is driven by a sense of religious obligation, and is thus exhausting. If the Gospel is really being proclaimed then it is not meaningless, as Paul noted to the Philippians, (Philippians 1:15-18) but if the motives are wrong, the one doing the proclaiming gets little or no benefit. The proper motivation is stated right here: Christ’s love. We are to share the Gospel out of an overwhelming awareness of how much we are loved by God in Christ Jesus. Frankly, if we don’t share Christ, it shows we don’t understand how much He loves us. If we did, we would want everyone else to know that love as well. The expression Paul uses seems to be a little hard to translate. The NIV, and several others, say “compels us.” The Japanese I use says “surrounds us.” Other translations say, “hems us in,” or “leaves us no choice.” All of those are doubtless justified translations, but it all boils down to being overwhelmed by love and then responding to that love. We tend to think of love as a kind of romantic froth, when the love of God is the most powerful motivation in the universe. As John 3:16 says, it caused the Father to send His Son to die for us! Paul is just responding to that love, and the more we grasp that love, the more we will respond too.
Growing up in a missionary family and serving as a missionary myself, I have seen all sorts of motivations, as well as recognized several in myself. I have seen missionaries who seemed to be on “power trips,” lording it over those whom they “served.” That is obviously in direct violation of Jesus’ teaching. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I have since learned of horrendous sins committed by some such people. On the opposite end of the spectrum I have seen people, both missionaries and other believers, who simply exuded love to all they encountered. Those are the ones who will receive crowns in heaven! Jesus warned us that “the love of most will grow cold,” (Matthew 24:12) and He expressed to John a very stern warning about that. (Revelation 3:15-16) We need to “take our temperature” from time to time, meditating on God’s love for us and asking Him how He wants us to express that to those around us. I may be a missionary pastor, but that doesn’t mean my motives are always pure or that my love is always white-hot. I too need to submit myself to God and to my neighbor, allowing His love to flow through me from Him to them, for their salvation and His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the new missionary family from Taiwan that were here yesterday. Thank You for Your love that motivates them. I ask Your grace, wisdom and strength for each one. Each has different challenges in adjusting to living in Japan in the first place, and each has a unique mission from You to fulfill here. I pray that You would pour Your grace and wisdom into them, enabling them to navigate the language and the culture that are so different from what they are used to. May Your peace and joy surround and fill them, making them marvelously attractive to all they meet, drawing many into Your kingdom for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!