“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” -2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Reconciliation: Given that it is our most clearly stated purpose as followers of Christ, we really fail to give the time or thought that this word deserves. While we tend to focus on the minutiae of moment-by-moment behavior, we miss out on the broader image in which every one of our actions should fall. When we do this, it’s as if we make the New Testament into a new law, while disregarding it’s entire purpose: restoration through reconciliation.
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” -2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Reconciliation is the driving message (and most clear message) that is woven throughout scripture. Jesus came to reveal God’s desire to reconcile all creation to him, and gave us a glimpse of what that looks like. Paul clearly writes in 2 Corinthians 5 that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection means something different for how we should be living as his followers.
“From now on, therefore…” When Paul begins with this transition in verse 5 he is telling us, if we are claiming to be followers of Christ, this is the guide for how we are to live.
It means we don’t get to judge, discriminate, or favor a person because of race, gender, or societal status: “…we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”
It means we don’t get to harbor offense against each other, because Christ does not hold our offenses against him: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them”
Paul then reinforces that we are to continue Jesus’ ministry: “…and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
Paul ends this thought with a recap of what the two greatest commands look like for us in action, first he emphasizes that we must place our faith in Jesus: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
Then, because Jesus has ensured our status as children of God through his sacrifice, we are to go about the business of setting things right: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Jesus came to save the world. John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus is the “lamb of God” who takes away the sin of the world. The “sin of the world” is separation from God. Jesus reinforced that his mission was that of reconciliation through restoring the image of what it could be like on earth to live in relationship with the Father as a community in John 3:17. When we live in a way that is unifying, loving, caring, and looking to the needs of others… then we are the “righteousness of God” on earth.
So why the “I am Sodom” title?
When I choose to live in a way that is divisive, condescending, self-centered, lavish, or uncaring… rather than reconciliatory… then I am guilty of the sin that destroyed Sodom:
“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” -Ezekiel 16:49
Every time I’m blind to the plight of others, I am Sodom.
Every time I expect someone to “do it on his or her own,” I am Sodom.
Every time I choose selfishly to enjoy luxury, when there is a need I can meet, I am Sodom.
Every time I justify my position in life and am deaf to the needs of those around me, I am Sodom.
Jesus made clear the selfless manner in which we are to live. He gave the ministry of reconciliation such weight that in Matthew 25 he described eternal judgment as resting on it.