2 Corinthians 5:15-17 is considered one of Paul’s greatest passages in which he addresses the ministry of reconciliation through Christ. He illustrates this by affirming what Christ means to him, he lays out the nature and purpose of ministry as he has come to understand it through the Holy Spirit. By doing so, he describes and calls believers to remember that upon choosing Jesus they are a new creation; the old is gone and the new has come. And it is because of that - we are given the chance to develop what this sermon series is calling, a faith with 20/20 vision.
The Christian community in Corinth were dealing with what it meant to be and do church in a place of promiscuity, corruption, and political unrest. They were trying to understand pastoral responsibility. There were dealing with believers who couldn’t agree on things and had differing views. There was confusion over the best way to handle certain things in church and in their community, politics, power plays, and disagreements over how to do ministry and what position, gift, or teaching was better or more important. (Glad that doesn’t happen anymore)
By telling them about his powerful transformation moment (which we will learn more about later in the series) and his spiritual growth, Paul reminds the believers of what happened at their conversion. What they felt and how things shifted for them; how their perspective changed - how their eyes were opened. He brings them back to the simplicity of their faith when it was about them and Jesus and the call to follow. Imagine if that could be the focus of all we see. At the end of the day, isn’t that all any of us can do; have faith and follow Jesus? The old way to see is like looking through glasses with pro or anti lenses or like using blinders. We don’t see the way intended. It is a limited way of looking at others. Human judgments are limited and inadequate, they are tinged with prejudice, bias, ulterior motives, and conflicting emotions. We need the eyes of Jesus to help us see truth, wisdom and the value of people in all situations and circumstances.
When we see the world and the people in it through the lens of Jesus, it is a vision that no longer sees, views, perceives, judges, critiques, or looks at people the way we used to - the old is passed, the new has come. What would the world look like if you let go of those glasses of fear, doubt or shame? What would you see if you retired those lenses of bitterness, anger, or regret? How would things be different if you no longer looked through glasses of prejudice, hate, or judgmentalism? How would that make a difference for our families, for your happiness, for your relationship with Jesus, or for our own church, our ministries, our partnerships, our relationships, life outside these walls?
The power of this text is two-fold: first the power of what we call a theology of reconciliation - Us in Christ and Christ in us and second the fact that this text is written to the church - to a body of believers - NOT the least, last or the lost and unbelievers of the community. It is written to those who are called to see the world differently! You - the church. You who proclaim to follow Jesus. The church is called, even commanded to see things differently - through glasses of faith, hope and love. Through the lens of compassion, justice, and forgiveness. Through the eyes of Jesus that dwells in us.
It is time we change the lenses in our glasses church. May we strive to see the truth of what God is doing in our midst and in our world. May we strive to bring a clear vision of hope, faith, and love to all those we encounter.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine